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Monday, August 27, 2012

From the Maine Owl eclipse series 2008-02-20

Sunday, September 04, 2011

"across those ten years have the charges that it was an "inside job," a favored phrase of the self-styled "truthers," received any serious buttress? The answer is no."
The 9/11 Conspiracists: Vindicated After All These Years? Counterpunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names

Alexander Cockburn in the piece above gives a pretty good rundown on the hapless state of 9/11 conspiracy theory "movements." It's always been a sad enterprise.

I think I won't write more about it, but if you are so inclined, here are two earlier posts:

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Another interesting moon

Equinox-perigee Moon
Taken Friday March 18 in Iowa

By reader request, my best shot, one day short of the big full moon. This frame pushes the limits of my little Canon 120SX-IS. I don't have the DSLR with the better glass here in Iowa.

Nuclear disaster in Japan
There have been some other friends who have requested postings on the nuclear disaster in Japan. On Facebook, I have made a few link posts public. I think you can use THIS LINK (if logged into Facebook) to find them. Meanwhile, check out THIS ARTICLE and THIS PEACECAST PROGRAM for discussion of the issues by Arjun Makhijani of

Check back in May for new posts to this blog.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Some time ago I posted a series on the last visible spectacular total lunar eclipse [Feb. 2008, scroll down to entire series]. Now in Florida over the Christmas break, last night I managed to stay up into the wee hours of 2 am to 5 am (EST) to get some shots of the unusual winter solstice eclipse. A series of four images is below. Officially, winter solstice occurred at 6:38 pm this evening. Happy solstice!!

2:18 am 12-21-2010
Part-way to totality

3:18 am 12-21-2010
Mid totality

4:05 am 12-21-2010
Just after totality

4:45 am 12-21-2010
Almost over

Saturday, October 02, 2010

From Penobscot Bay Blog...

Ron Huber has reported recently on the Sears Island court case HERE and HERE (latest, posted yesterday). It's complicated, but in essence Huber is challenging the constitutionality of the tandem moves made by the Maine Department of Transportation and the Maine Legislature Committee on Transportation in promoting and approving the "split" of Sears Island into conservation and sacrifice zones.

Sacrifice, that is, for a container port for which the state has been unable to discern any interest in the private sector. Arrrrrrrg.

Previous posts:

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Hoverfly on Asters
Seen along an Iowa roadside

Monday, September 06, 2010

Nothing learned: NY Times pages open to Iran nuke fear mongering

Iran Remains Defiant, Nuclear Agency Says
By DAVID E. SANGER and WILLIAM J. BROAD; Published: Sep. 6, 2010
WASHINGTON -- Three months after the United Nations Security Council enacted its harshest sanctions yet against Iran, global nuclear inspectors reported Monday that the country has dug in its heels, refusing to provide inspectors with the information and access they need to determine whether the real purpose of Tehran's program is to produce weapons....
Imagine that! Iran doesn't trust what might happen when you cooperate with the IAEA. What events in history could cause not just the Iranian enemy, but any reasonable person to doubt the motives of Washington?

Writer and former CIA presidential briefer Ray McGovern recently has pointed to the obvious answer -- Iran hawks in the White House are trying to figure out how to re-run the fall 2002 George W. Bush playbook. Despite a few skeptics like Admiral Blair (who was fired last spring), "pressure is building" to come up with some sort of "Curveball II" so the null 2007 nuclear estimate on Iran can be rewritten in time for Democrats to run a fear campaign in October. THIS STORY by McGovern from July lays out the case. An Iranian scientist, Shahram Amiri, who had been in the U.S. for 14 months until earlier this summer did not quite fill the bill. But as can be seen from the story above, there is plenty of dry powder left in the armory.

For those unfamiliar with Curveball, THIS long post from the old blog is a detailed examination of the "mobile bioweapons labs" canards -- the famously non-existent "Winnebagos of Death."

Today's particular story about Iran not filing reports to the liking of it's enemies eerily reminds me of a story from exactly eight years ago this week:

Bush, Blair make case against Iraq
CNN; September 7, 2002
CAMP DAVID, Maryland (CNN) -- President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Saturday there is ample evidence that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction, but critics questioned that conclusion and late Saturday some of the evidence the leaders cited was brought into question....

Blair said on Saturday morning, "We only need look at the report from the International Atomic Energy Agency this morning, showing what has been going on at a former nuclear weapon site."

He said satellite pictures indicate new construction in Iraq at "former nuclear weapon sites."

Blair said he had just read about a number of attempts by Saddam to conceal weapons of mass destruction and concluded that he must act. "A policy of inaction is not a policy we can responsibly subscribe to," he said.
I dare say there was more critical reporting then than there is now. It's almost like the War Party has learned better how to manage media than major media has learned about how to report skeptically on official claims.

From a political point of view, I highly doubt that the U.S. Democratic administration in power can get the same mileage out of Iran fear mongering that the Republicans did in 2002. It just doesn't work the same for Democrats.

About former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, isn't there a dock for him somewhere at The Hague? At least the sickening image of Blair strutting around his new book like a puffed-up peacock is being met by vigorous and healthy protest:
When Mr Blair visited Dublin, protesters threw shoes and eggs and one attempted to perform a citizen's arrest. He has now confirmed his second public appearance, an event at a branch of Waterstone's in Piccadilly, will be scrapped.

Mr Blair said: "I have decided not to go ahead with the signing as I don?t want the public to be inconvenienced by the inevitable hassle caused by protestors."

Monday, August 09, 2010

The late Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. called the nuclear bombing of Nagasaki (65 years ago today) the "nastiest act by this country, after human slavery"

Sixteen years ago I attended a Hiroshima/Nagasaki Commemoration at the University of Chicago. Of course, Chicago was a key site in the development of nuclear weapons. It was there under the Stagg Field football stadium on December 2, 1942 that Enrico Fermi and his Manhattan Project team started up the first nuclear reactor capable of a sustained, controlled chain reaction.

Vonnegut was the featured speaker that day in 1994. The final question asked of him was about how we know that use of The Bomb was about something other than ending World War II or "saving lives" in said-to-be-necessary military actions.

He replied with one word, "Nagasaki," and left the platform.

Last Friday August 6 we held our annual Peace Center commemoration at Peirce Park in Bangor. Below I am including two videos. The first is the full ceremony and runs 25 minutes. Yours truly is the last speaker. The second video is the local television coverage airing on all three channels Friday evening.

Below the fold, I have included a written version of my remarks, as prepared. And HERE is a link to the Bangor Daily News story that ran Saturday. (Wow, BDN comments tend toward a swamp of wingnuttia, don't they?)

This video runs 25 minutes and includes the whole commemoration and die-in. Maine Owl is the last speaker.

Ch. 2, Ch. 5, and Ch.7 stories from Friday August 6

Sadly no tape could be made of the reading of "Grandmother's Doll" by Masanobu and Tomoko Ikemiya of Bar Harbor. The story is about a little girl, a hibakusha, who survives the horror of Hiroshima. Masanobu is a wonderful concert pianist who told of his own WWII family tragedies.

Remarks by Maine Owl on August 6, 2010
I stand here today with the best news about the effort to rid the world of nuclear terror

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The first visitor is a female American Goldfinch. Later there are Chickadees, Chipping Sparrows and a Song Sparrow. But the real show is the male American Goldfinch. He looks around for a long time to see if it's going to be okay then he.... You'll just have to watch between 2:30 and 3:30!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Sunday in Acadia National Park

Cadillac from Schoodic Head
Few saw this awesome scene

I climbed Schoodic Head and descended The Anvil with my father-in-law on Sunday afternoon. The picture above is looking west across Frenchmen Bay towards Bar Harbor from the highest point on the Head, one of the few open views on the Schoodic Peninsula side of Acadia National Park. Cadillac Mountain is the only feature high enough to be out of the fog bank.

This is a wonderfully low-traffic part of the park. We did see four parties, but while atop Schoodic Head, we were all alone.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Veazie summer

Tufted Titmouse
Tufted Titmouse

It's good to be back in Veazie for the summer. What a great day this has been! I had plenty of time to wait for feeder visitors. There has been a Cardinal coming by, but this Tufted Titmouse makes a good frame too.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A reader kindly left this in the comments below a recent post:
I mainly got in touch to share another sad message -- Commissioner Cole held a breakfast this morning ( June 23, 2010 )at the Sea Dog with the Bangor Chamber of Commerce to discuss -- the CONTAINER PORT ON SEARS ISLAND ! Now that the Transportation Bond passed, the State (MDOT) will soon own the rail connection to Mack Point, and I think a new marketing campaign is about to begin. The pressure's on to turn this part of Maine into a major shipping corridor ...questions remain. Will the Army Corps accept their most recent UMBT proposal? How many times are they allowed to rewrite it -- until it passes ? They're just about to re-dredge Searsport Harbor -- are they going to use that as part of their campaign ? And when all is said and done, will they attract an investor ? Will they talk the State govt. into funding this everlasting 3-port vision? And what the blazes will they be shipping overseas and into the U.S. ? Will we be getting stuff from China that will end up at Marden's ? Liquid Natural Gas ? Will we be sending out wind turbine parts, Blueberry juice and wood products ? The Sears Island port idea isn't over -- someone needs to tell Steve Miller of Islesboro Islands Trust that his article in the Free Press (12/17/2009) which optimistically projected zero marine industry interest, is not the final word. The MDOT is still interested, the Transportation Committee is still interested, and Gov. Baldacci is still involved -- they're painting gold leaf on their rail and port "vision" as we speak. Sears Island is still in danger -- and the MDOT didn't even pay for the breakfast at the Sea Dog !
There was a business story in the BDN today, HERE. Previous posts:

Friday, June 11, 2010

Another Counterpunch piece on the clenched fist saga

Notable is its even fuller historical take than the piece I cited Wednesday. Plus, the activities of the conniving Dennis Ross are laid out in detail. But most important is the title,

The Fourth Round of Sanctions on Iran
The End of "Tough Diplomacy"?
...On June 9, 2010?after much delay caused by such unforeseen events as Brazil and Turkey resisting the repetition of the Iraq scenario--the fourth UN sanction resolution against Iran was passed by the Security Council, with Brazil and Turkey voting 'no' and Lebanon abstaining. The passage of the resolution officially ends the 'tough diplomacy' phase of the Obama Administration's Iran policy. So far, the policy has followed closely the script written by Dennis Ross and his associates in the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. If the script is followed all the way through, we should expect the next phases to consist of more severe unilateral sanctions, a naval blockade, and, ultimately, military actions against Iran. The last phase would complete the US-Israeli policy of dual containment of Iran and Iraq.
This is the big kahuna. Just like prior to the 1st Gulf War, or the Iraq War, no amount of diplomacy or concession or "confidence building" measure can be accepted. The Bush/Obama program includes an already-written script that says Iran will be neutralized by force.

And why should they think it won't work? The Iraq War is a SUCCESS in this regard. The Israelis have demonstrated in Lebanon & Gaza as the U.S. has in Iraq that extreme aggression is met with but a whimper from the "international community," at least the tiny part of it not either dominated or managed by the U.S.

But still, Iran is the biggest bite yet. China & Russia have gone along because they get what they want out of the deals (missile sales, eg) and the sanctions basically will not affect their dealings with Iran. That whole calculus could change if an aggression is launched by U.S./Israel. We'll guess is before Obama leaves office.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Obama shows his clenched fist to Iran

So the 15-member U.N. Security Council has at U.S. behest approved a fourth round of mild sanctions against Iran to keep on the pressure over nuclear issues. The vote was 12 to 2 with one abstention.

Interestingly, the resolution was opposed by Turkey and Brazil. I had read the news over the last month or so that these two countries and their leaders had brokered a potential solution satisfactory to Iran. Iran would give up substantial capacity to produce nuclear reactor fuel and move a significant amount of existing enriched uranium out of the country. These new sanctions, then, are slaps to the faces of Lula and Erdogan, Brazil's president and Turkey's prime minister respectively.

The importance to the U.S. of continuing tension is made clear by the observed reaction of President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when the threat of diplomatic success of the Brazil/Turkey/Iran negotiations emerged.

I was not made aware of just how extreme this reaction was until I read the entire story as told in an excellent piece by Esam Al-Amin posted on Counterpunch June 9. Obama stabbed his Brazilian and Turkish allies in the back:

Obama's Doublespeak on Iran
On April 12, 2010, President Barack Obama hosted a forty-seven nation Nuclear Security Summit in Washington. He met with dozens of heads of state making his case for a fourth set of crippling sanctions on Iran because of its intransigence on the nuclear issue. His main argument was the refusal of Iran to accept the proposal by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of transferring the bulk of Iran?s low enriched uranium outside the country in exchange for medical nuclear isotopes.

The following day Obama met with President Luiz Lula Da Silva of Brazil and Prime Minister Recep Tayyib Erdogan of Turkey ... Obama not only encouraged them to pursue a diplomatic breakthrough, but he also vowed to be constructive and flexible, as well as promising to send them in writing the parameters of any deal deemed acceptable to the US. ...
The piece goes on to describe the conditions Obama laid out in an April letter, conditions the Iranians apparently were ready to accept. However,
On May 17, an agreement based on the American and IAEA proposals was signed by the foreign ministers of all three countries. A week later Iran submitted an official letter to the IAEA acknowledging the pact and stating its intention to transfer its LEU to Turkey within one month once the plan was accepted.

To the complete surprise of Brazil and Turkey, the White House and the State Department dismissed the deal out of hand within 24 hours, rejecting the same principles outlined in Obama?s letter. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton even called it ?a ploy? before a hearing in the Senate?s Committee on Foreign Relations on May 18, declaring that a sanctions resolution against Iran in the Security Council is imminent.
Secretary Clinton now has her sanctions, the fist firmly is clenched, and Obama has revealed himself to be a backstabber. Evidently the U.S. leaders did not believe the Iranians actually would go for the quite rigid deal. So it was necessary to revoke it against the threat of success.

Evidently the U.S. prefers to coddle the one real nuclear power in the Mideast -- Israel -- while playing a game of threats, sanctions, and false diplomacy. How much stock should we put in Obama's now oft-repeated desire to rid the world of nuclear weapons when he won't stand behind his own diplomatic positions?

Monday, June 07, 2010

Let me start by saying I've always been skeptical of last year's tax reform bill (LD 1495). With a repeal referendum a day away, it's time for a solid decision on it. My decision is to vote Yes to repeal.

This is difficult because I am making common cause with some loopy Republican wingnuts while many progressive Democrats and decent social change groups I've supported in the past are on the other side. Below the fold I have included the full text of two of the emails on this issue I've received in the last few days. One is letter-headed "Engage Maine" and the other is from Maine State Senate Majority Leader Phil Bartlett. I'm not going to take these items apart point-by-point. I'll just discusses why I feel these emails lack the full story of what's going on here.

The reason I disagree with the No vote urged by these emails is that LD 1495 violates what should be a solid-rock Democratic principle: It issues the highest-income taxpayers a large rate reduction while giving the rest of us, through elimination of progressive rates in favor of a flat rate higher than the effective rate most of us now pay, ameliorated by a new complex credit, what in the short term amounts nearly to a wash, and what could in very few years become something of a tax increase.

Built into the new law are clearly regressive sales taxes. Previously-untaxed categories of services that can cost lower-income people higher percentages of their income, like car repairs, would be taxed. A few expensive trips to the mechanic (like the $2500 of attention the Subaru we once had needed a few years ago) easily could wipe out the meager income tax savings offered to lower-income taxpayers like us.

Rhetoric saying "income taxes will drop for over 95% of Mainers" may be well true in a surface fashion in the near term. But this is a shallow statement. Even a slight amount of analysis of figures supplied by Maine Revenue reveals that the biggest winners in tax reform will be the richest Maine taxpayers. The initial "drop" for most of us would be razor-thin while inflation indexing is reduced leading potentially to higher taxes in the future.

Careful analysis on this was done by Portland-area accountant (and long-time Democrat) Albert A. DiMillo, Jr. The best critiques of the "95%" rhetoric are found HERE, at a site called called Maine Democrats For Fair Tax Reform.

DiMillo has sparked some heated controversy. Sometimes I don't like the way he argues. But at Maine Democrats For Fair Tax Reform I've found THIS DOCUMENT very helpful because it is a direct critique of many shallow talking points. And it illustrates the upper-income bonanza that ought to remind us of the Bush years instead of celebrate the wondrous progressive thing we've done.
Albert A. DiMillo, Jr.: The MRS report for year 2013, estimates that a group of 4,638 taxpayers with income over $350,810 will get a net income and sales tax cut of $34.8 million. The other 99.3% of Mainers will have a net income and sales tax increase of $3.5 million.
So it's hardly a "fairer tax base" that's being created here, as the letters below would have you believe. Even worse, Senator Bartlett falls into a trap set by years of Republican media talking points: that the rich deserve to get a big amount of money in tax cuts because they pay more, "Higher income people do receive more money back, because they pay more in taxes;"

Well of course they pay more in taxes! They have more of the money. This is not the point. The real question is what rate do they pay? The bedrock Democratic principle ought to be that those who accumulate money well beyond the marginal incomes the rest of us earn ought to pay significantly higher percentages of that income. Now, I'm not in favor of unreasonably high rates on the rich. But they should be charged what they can can afford to pay. Just like the rest of us. Sadly, Senator Bartlett and Engage Maine, et. al. have shown their willingness to back away from this principle. I will not.

Below I have included the full text of these messages, along with basic provisions of the law from Maine Revenue. I won't bother to refute points myself. Read DiMillo for that. Readers can look at these facts and arguments and judge for themselves.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Fucking BP fucking failed fucking proper fucking booming:

This about says it all:
It is not bright bright orange or yellow so you can see it, dear fledgling boomer, but so Governors, Senators, Presidents and The Media can see it.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Who's side is Senator Susan Collins on?

Admittedly I have not been following the junior senator much while I've been away. Fortunately, Contrapositive has. He finds this Moneywatch item written by popular financial commentator Jane Bryant Quinn:

Stop Senator Collins! She Wants to Cut a Key Investor Protection from the Reform Bill
... Last week, devious brokers found their champion. Collins proposed an amendment to the reform bill, to exempt from fiduciary duty brokers who sell only mutual funds, variable annuities, and certain closed-end funds. Furthermore, the Securities and Exchange Commission could expand the exemption to brokers selling other products packaged by their firms. ...
Wow, what intense, biting criticism from a very mainstream source. It reflects how burned the small investor has been in the financial meltdown by the sharks that view us as little more than plankton in the sea.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Thirty years ago today

USGS video

In my memory, the sequence of events was (1) finished my stat. mech. final; (2) my undergraduate career was over; (3) Mount Saint Helens blew up. Seems like yesterday.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Chaotic behavior.

Period doubling to chaos

This time it's Europe and it's a trillion dollars from the people's wallet so that a rotten financial system can cover its bets. I wonder how many times the public hide can be tanned so that the emperors can keep wearing their finery.

The people of Greece seem to have taken the only rational action.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Forty years ago, "Four dead in O - Hi - O"

Cover art from ``Pete Hamill's Murder at Kent State University,'' 1970 Flying Dutchman spoken word album narrated by Rosko

GOV. JAMES RHODES: We are seeing here at the city of Kent, especially, probably the most vicious form of campus-oriented violence yet perpetrated by dissident groups. They make definite plans of burning, destroying and throwing rocks at police and at the National Guard and the Highway Patrol. This is when we're going to use every part of the law enforcement agency of Ohio to drive them out of Kent. We are going to eradicate the problem. We're not going to treat the symptoms. And these people just move from one campus to the other and terrorize the community. They're worse than the Brown Shirts in the communist element and also the Night Riders and the vigilantes. They're the worst type of people that we harbor in America. And I want to say that they're not going to take over a campus.

REPORTER: How long do you expect to keep the Guard at Kent?

GOV. JAMES RHODES: I'll answer that -- Until we get rid of them.
Ohio Governor James Rhodes interviewed on May 3, 1970, excerpted from the documentary "Kent State: The Day the War Came Home," directed by Chris Triffo, produced by Ron Goetz; and broadcast on Democracy Now! in 2005.

And here is an excerpt from Nat Hentoff's liner notes in the 1970 Flying Dutchman spoken word album ``Pete Hamill's Murder at Kent State University''.
America -- Spring, 1970 -- must have seemed a land of madness to, let us say, a citizen of Copenhagen watching on television what we were doing to ourselves. Let alone what we kept doing -- and keep doing -- to others in Vietnam, in Cambodia, and God (or is it the Devil) knows where else and how soon.

America -- Spring, 1970 -- was witnessing a further dimension of madness. We were killing our own children. Officially. Men wearing uniforms, carrying and using guns issued to them by the state, were murdering the young. At Kent State. In Jackson, Mississippi. And by the time you read this, perhaps at other places....

...The Mobe Marshals -- as police tear gas began during the end of the day in May, after Cambodia and after Kent State, when the Army of the young had again come to Washington -- the Mobe Marshalls, Pete Hamill writes, ``intervened with the only weapon they had: their bodies. They formed a line between the young and the police, arms locked, tears running down their faces from the gas, holding on, choking, trying to hold back the rushing tides of blood and anger.''

Unless millions of us organize -- and stay organized -- after Kent State and Cambodia and Jackson -- there will be no holding back those tides.... There is not that much time left. Those other voices -- hawking ``bums'' and ``impudent snobs'' -- still have the power to make many, many Kent States and many, many Jacksons. They are beyond understanding but they are not yet beyond the democratic processes if we implement those processes and tell them -- in numbers they cannot ignore -- to stop the killing, stop the madness.

There is not that much time left.
This all has an eerie echo to today, but without the Mobe Marshals and their bodies. America is making today horror on a major scale in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. But all this hardly produces a bleat of disobedience. In fact killing is celebrated with cheering and applause for a Vice President's unseemly performance of blood spitting.

Young, Hentoff, Hamill all are still with us, often stirring things up a bit. But are "millions of us" ready to stop war through "democratic process"?