Saturday, August 30, 2008
Elizabeth Press describes a raid in St. Paul; cops had a bad warrant, crawled through attic
Lawyer in handcuffs had demanded warrant
There's more in Greenwald's updates, HERE.
Standard for suspicion: "political awareness"
Glenn Greenwald has an astonishing pre-Rebublican-convention story w/video (see above) from my home state of Minnesota:
Massive police raids on suspected protestors in Minneapolis
GREEENWALD: Protesters here in Minneapolis have been targeted by a series of highly intimidating, sweeping police raids across the city, involving teams of 25-30 officers in riot gear, with sub-machine guns drawn, entering homes of those suspected of planning protests, handcuffing and forcing them to lay on the floor, while law enforcement officers searched the homes, seizing computers, journals, and political pamphlets. ...My question is, At what point do American citizens who are slumbering through this stuff or even quietly approving it wake up and figure out just how un-American it is? I suppose there is plenty of history -- union busting, Palmer raids, COINTELPRO. But are not the proportions of what is going on here very extreme? The students harassed by gun-wielding functionaries with hilarious warrants (seeking "bottles," for example) is an expression of the worst kind of know-nothingism and wingnuttia-sourced hate.
There is clearly an intent on the part of law enforcement authorities here to engage in extreme and highly intimidating raids against those who are planning to protest the Convention. The DNC in Denver was the site of several quite ugly incidents where law enforcement acted on behalf of Democratic Party officials and the corporate elite that funded the Convention to keep the media and protesters from doing anything remotely off-script. But the massive and plainly excessive preemptive police raids in Minnesota are of a different order altogether. Targeting people with machine-gun-carrying SWAT teams and mass raids in their homes, who are suspected of nothing more than planning dissident political protests at a political convention and who have engaged in no illegal activity whatsoever, is about as redolent of the worst tactics of a police state as can be imagined.
By failing to oppose these assaults on civil liberties while engaging in intimidation tactics of their own, the Democrats have placed their stamp of approval on this. They evidently see the right of people to oppose the actions of their own government while being free of unlawful search and seizure to be "bad politics."
Furthermore, Democratic acquiescence to the Bush crimes and failure to conduct proper impeachment hearings reflects their dereliction of duty while the voices of principled dissent are crushed. It's goddamn shameful.
Friday, August 29, 2008
Interesting. The young, inexperienced, possibly corrupt, female governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, is the pick of John McCain for his running mate on the Republican ticket.
I think the first video in THIS SET explains why and what the centerpiece of the Republican campaign will be this fall.
PALIN (with text "Drill! Drill! Drill! underneath): [McCain] ... eventually supporting ANWR opening. Obama is way off base on all that. I think that those politicians who don't understand that we need more domestic supply of energy to flow into our hungry markets, you know, they're living in La La Land.Obama/Biden better be ready for this. She is completely disarming and very, very effective in this energy bit. She deftly deflected the fact that McCain is doing a hard flop against his previous environmentally protective position on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Obviously the Republicans are leading with the Newt Gingrich program and taking the offensive on fuel prices. So far, they have very effectively drilled the Democrats into a corner. The fuel prices quite simply are the most potent reality of the deep failure of the Bush Administration. Gingrich has turned this around into the fault of the Democrats!
"Drill here, drill now, pay less" is a simple, appealing slogan. To unpack it requires at least ten minutes of explanation. The typical U.S. voter simply is not equipped to view the sloganeering with any skepticism. The production/consumption numbers and geopolitics of world oil simply do not suggest domestic oil drilling is any kind of route to U.S. energy independence. But the typical consumer does not see this when turning over a regular slug of cash at the local gas mart.
The Democrats have tried to inject some reality into the drilling debate. But they too promote "energy independence." I'd go as far as to say that in the long-run this is a myth. Every projection of future oil production suggests that the Middle East rapidly will become more important as a source for the U.S. and every other oil consumer no matter how much extra drilling happens on U.S. soil and in U.S. waters. The domestic drilling slogans offer no solution. The Democrats better not run away from making that clear.
People who think this veep choice automatically loses it for McCain are wrong. If the Democrats aren't careful, this woman will have them for lunch. She's capable of launching absolutely devastating attacks in what is lined up as a Republican mockery campaign. She'll be well briefed and very difficult to paint as an air-headed former beauty queen. In a match with Biden, do not expect a gaffe from her.
Still, it is the Democrats campaign to lose. If they play it right, the presence of Palin on the Republican ticket does undermine the argument that Obama is "not ready."
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Here is a handy item from the NPR Fresh Air page from Tuesday's good program featuring an interview with Jonathan Oberlander, author of The Political Life of Medicare:
Comparing The Plans
McCain: He would replace the current tax-free status of health insurance coverage provided by employers with refundable tax credits worth $2,500 for individuals and $5,000 for families to help purchase insurance. McCain would allow the sale of insurance policies across state lines, rather than state by state, as is currently the case.If the McCain plan were to be enacted in this form, a lot of people would get very rude shocks in their paychecks: huge increases in their top-line income, but even larger deductions for taxes + premiums resulting in lower take-home pay.
Obama: He would create a new plan for those who lack other access to coverage, as well as a National Health Insurance Exchange to help pool the purchasing power of small businesses and individuals. Obama would also offer a combination of subsidies and tax credits to help make coverage more affordable. He would mandate health insurance coverage for children, but not adults. Obama would create a federally sponsored health insurance plan, similar to Medicare, that would compete with private plans for those under age 65.
I know of a local public agency where the full-time staff would each see under McCain a net loss of in take-home pay under this plan because the $5,000 credit would not quite cover the increase in taxes. Of course, not everybody gets such a full-paid plan in a state with premiums as expensive as they are in Maine. But workers who have struggled to win good benefits will be the ones hurt the worst by McCain. Furthermore, as premiums escalate, the credit would begin to fall further short in covering the tax increase.
Why aren't the Democrats singing these facts about the McCain plan and the obvious superiority of the Obama plan from the highest mountain?
One last question, does McCain's Maine co-chair, Senator Susan Collins, support this quite radical McCain plan?
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
No threat of a large TV audience for this
Dennis Kucinich (OH-10): "It's Election Day 2008. We Democrats are giving America a wake-up call. Wake up, America. In 2001, the oil companies, the war contractors and the neo-con artists seized the economy and have added 4 trillion dollars of unproductive spending to the national debt. We now pay four times more for defense, three times more for gasoline and home heating oil and twice what we paid for health care.
"Millions of Americans have lost their jobs, their homes, their health care, their pensions. Trillions of dollars for an unnecessary war paid with borrowed money. Tens of billions of dollars in cash and weapons disappeared into thin air, at the cost of the lives of our troops and innocent Iraqis, while all the president's oilmen are maneuvering to grab Iraq's oil.
"Borrowed money to bomb bridges in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. No money to rebuild bridges in America. Money to start a hot war with Iran. Now we have another cold war with Russia, while the American economy has become a game of Russian roulette.
"If there was an Olympics for misleading, mismanaging and misappropriating, this administration would take the gold. World records for violations of national and international laws. They want another four-year term to continue to alienate our allies, spend our children's inheritance and hollow out our economy.
"We can't afford another Republican administration. Wake up, America. The insurance companies took over health care. Wake up, America. The pharmaceutical companies took over drug pricing.
"Wake up, America. The speculators took over Wall Street. Wake up, America. They want to take your Social Security. Wake up, America. Multinational corporations took over our trade policies, factories are closing, good paying jobs lost.
"Wake up, America. We went into Iraq for oil. The oil companies want more. War against Iran will mean $10-a-gallon gasoline. The oil administration wants to drill more, into your wallet. Wake up, America. Weapons contractors want more. An Iran war will cost 5 to 10 trillion dollars.
"This administration can tap our phones. They can't tap our creative spirit. They can open our mail. They can't open economic opportunities. They can track our every move. They lost track of the economy while the cost of food, gasoline and electricity skyrockets. They skillfully played our post-9/11 fears and allowed the few to profit at the expense of the many. Every day we get the color orange, while the oil companies, the insurance companies, the speculators, the war contractors get the color green.
"Wake up, America. This is not a call for you to take a new direction from right to left. This is call for you to go from down to up. Up with the rights of workers. Up with wages. Up with fair trade. Up with creating millions of good paying jobs, rebuilding our bridges, ports and water systems. Up with creating millions of sustainable energy jobs to lower the cost of energy, lower carbon emissions and protect the environment.
"Up with health care for all. Up with education for all. Up with home ownership. Up with guaranteed retirement benefits. Up with peace. Up with prosperity. Up with the Democratic Party. Up with Obama-Biden.
"Wake up, America. Wake up, America. Wake up, America."
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
I've been wanting to study the demand/production vs. price curves in recent behavior of the oil markets. It's just too big a project for me to even think about. Today there is a great contribution in this area posted at The Oil Drum:
Predator-Prey Dynamics in Demand Destruction and Oil Prices
Posted by jeffvail on August 26, 2008 - 11:01am
One of the classic ecological modeling problems is the oscillating populations of predators and their prey in an ecosystem--as prey population rises, predator population follows suit until prey population begins to fall off, resulting in a subsequent drop in predator population (illustrated below). The same dynamic also applies, to some degree, to the relationship between oil price (prey) and marginal production/demand destruction/energy policy (predator). This post will explore that relationship and its ability to help us avoid poor energy policy choices.In our current tight supply situation, because of inability of world production to continue to grow without limit in support of economic growth, the price will try to scale a vertical wall. When demand pulls back a little in response, the price can fall back rather quickly. That is exactly the condition we have now. (Harry Shearer had a good item on the demand pull-back a couple of weeks ago, HERE.)
I'll try to examine this dynamic in more detail in subsequent posts. Meanwhile, no one should relax because we have a temporary climb-down of the gas price.
I stand here today at the crosscurrents of that history - knowing that my piece of the American Dream is a blessing hard won by those who came before me.
Certainly I liked the speech Michelle Obama delivered at the Democratic National Convention Monday night. She's a huge credit to the Obama operation.
The speech was very personal. It focused on family and personal relations and her late father's struggle against a debilitating disease. The hard times were overcome through gritty individual perseverance of folks who "weren't asking for a handout or a shortcut," and "smiling and laughing" all the while.
Look, I'm not really going to criticize her story. I liked the speech and she was brilliant. But I do want to discuss the manner in which she dips into the upcoming forty-fifth anniversary (this Thursday) of the March on Washington and the Martin Luther King "I Have a Dream" speech. She cites not one word of King. Maybe Senator Obama will do so in his nomination acceptance speech on Thursday, I don't know.
Even though Michelle does say that getting to "what our world should look like" has required "people who stood up and marched and risked everything they had," and that "we have an obligation to fight for the world as it should be," she avoids dwelling on the act of people organizing and uniting for the cause of justice. She does not cite any sources of injustice either. Just what is it that makes the world not look as it should?
King had an awful lot to say about that on August 28, 1963:
MLK: In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.Forty-five years later that promissory note is still marked in default for de facto segregated, vastly under-funded communities all over America while foreign wars rage on and corporate ripoffs flourish. I'll be watching the Democrats to see if there is even the slightest sense left in 'em to address any of this. I have my doubts. It seems like to be on-message, Democrats must eschew mention of economic starvation of poor communities and the now hyper-aggravated divide of society's resources into the pockets of the rich.
It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check ? a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.
Monday, August 25, 2008
According to NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology), the third and final building collapse in the World Trade Center area of New York City in the late afternoon of September 11, 2001 was due to fire. Read all about it in last week's press release, HERE.
This finding I imagine will ramp up reaction amongst 9/11 conspiracy movement people. They will pull out all sorts of speculation about why this is a put-up job. For a flavor of their brand of "proof", I recommend my post in the old blog about the misuse of physics amongst this conspiracy crowd. See that post HERE. And yes, I've watched the videos with speculative comments by Professor Jones about the "puffs" of smoke & debris, the supposed flows of molten metal, the "sturdy" nature of the materials & structure, and the rate of fall. He's going to have to do a lot better. Being a physicist, he must know dynamic loads are a very different animal than static loads.
Building 7 is the smoking gun for conspiracy proponents. But the findings of the lengthy and careful study by NIST are that, "The fires in WTC 7, which were uncontrolled but otherwise similar to fires experienced in other tall buildings, caused an extraordinary event" leading to the "Heating of floor beams and girders" which "caused a critical support column to fail, initiating a fire-induced progressive collapse that brought the building down."
In the old blog post, I had a mild go-round with some commenters sympathetic to the conspiracy theories who wrote things like this:
I have not hear[d] a good explanation as to how these collapses could have caused steel and concrete to vaporize and pulverize substantially into micron size particles.You can read these posts and my responses at the above link.
In that post, I also recommend the fine articles posted at Counterpunch written by retired physicist Manuel Garcia in 2006. These have far more analysis than I was able to offer. Garcia has published a follow-up piece explaining areas where his hypotheses proved incorrect in the light of the NIST findings. His point today is about how science operates. Truth comes not from jumping to singular conclusions about observations taken as anomalies, as the conspiracy theorists do again and again. Rather, the "detail and pace of NIST work" is the key to arriving at a supportable scenario for the "phenomenology of the WTC building fires and collapses."
Finally, I'll note my own follow-up post from April 2007 describing a split between another physicist -- this one, Steven Jones, who I mention above and who is sympathetic to certain conspiracy notions -- and a group with even vaster belief in U.S. government involvement through use of mysterious super-weapons. A fellow who taught university-level philosophy in Minnesota, named James Fetzer, appears to believe that it just might have been energy beams from spaced-based platforms that started the collapse of the WTC buildings. That was too much for Jones, who quickly broke with the "Scholars for Truth" a couple of years ago.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Jaw dropping: How many mansions? Can he possibly care about ordinary people in trouble?
There is a story out today that's had me ROFL: McCain Doesn't Remember How Many Houses He Owns.
Poor old, senile guy.
At that link, there also is surprisingly good ad in response from Obama. If the McCain campaign wants to play a Rovian script attacking Obama as an un-American, un-patriotic "celebrity" (a "critical psychological, character-based foundation to support a very disparate set of accusations," according to a posting at The Democratic Stratigist), I think that McCain's mansions are totally fair game. Good for Obama in getting a response out so quick.
See also HERE for an entertaining trip around to McCain's residences.
They must see the damage possible from the houses gaffe because the McCain campaign has responded with the POW card: "'This is a guy who lived in one house for five and a half years -- in prison,' spokesman Brian Rogers told the Washington Post."
Okey doke. If that's how they're going to deal with everything, isn't it fair to start questioning if the POW years had a lasting negative effect on McCain's fitness for high office when he can't even remember how many mansions he has?
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Obama is sinking in the polls like a rock. She will be perceived as the strongest choice to boost him over the widest area while rekindling the primary fires of last spring. Plus, for some strange reason I can't fathom, she'll be seen as the "experience" Obama needs at his side for dealing with the mean and nasty Russians now suddenly focused in the frame and contributing to McCain's rise. Of course, that perception of her "experience" is based on the Bill Clinton presidency and her cultivation of a Thatcheresque pose.
Treat this post as b.s.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Obama better come up with an answer
"Higher taxes, higher gas prices, economic disaster."
Whoa. This is some powerful stuff McCain is peddling. Ads with a message very similar to this one are running in southern Maine, probably because of the proximity to swing state New Hampshire. It's traditional anti-tax technique coupled with deft transferrance of the harms of decades of Republicanism away from the Republicans. Basically the idea is to hang the last eight years around Obama's neck. Ridiculous? Of course.
The gas prices actually constitute a huge levy on the public for Bush's wars. But will Obama attack back in kind with a strong enough counter-message that it is actually McCain who wants to continue the wars ad infinitum? I haven't seen it yet.
Obama has tried to explain that his economic plan intends a mild restructuring of taxes so the rich pay a few cents more. That would be a step in the right direction. But he better get out there with a strong "fairness" message while drawing a picture of McCain as purveyor of endless war. Otherwise, these ads will set in and Obama will have no hope of shaking enough voters free from the grip of the Republican confusion machine.
More commentary just out describes the weakness of the recent Obama campaign in the face of this Republican onslaught: Progressives Sound Alarm About Obama Campaign. With McCain so inconsistent and so lacking in solutions, the disturbing trend is that, according to Josh Marshall, "The lack of any consistent lines of attack against McCain is becoming palpable."
I couldn't agree more. For evidence about what is happening, go look at the erosion over at the 538 poll tracker. Now the fellow who runs that site is arguing that Obama has a great ground game and that somehow shows the campaign is also great. However, the erosion in the polls is unmistakable. If this is turning into the August disaster that was the Swiftboated Kerry campaign of four years ago remains to be seen. But if I was hoping beyond all hope for an Obama presidency, I'd be worried.
1807 Munjoy Hill structure a fixture on Portland landscape
Small piece of view from Observatory
Last year, the Observatory was 200 years old. Read all about it HERE. I hadn't been up since eight years ago, shortly after the 1990s restoration project was completed. We visited this amazing site over this past weekend. The view from up top was as clear as it has been for the last several weeks of cloudy, rainy weather.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Lots and lots of these ...
But not enough of the actual thing.
The whole garden is like that this year. It came up like gangbusters while we were in Minnesota. But precious few fruit have formed so far. Well, there are many green cherry tomatoes. We've only been able to pull out two actual cucumbers so far.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
One of the hardest things for Americans to accept is that our country used its power to invade, conquer, occupy and eviscerate someone else's country while causing untold suffering of millions of its people. In the mind of McCain, this taking simply does not register as an invasion. H/T Think Progress.
Update: Here's why.
Friday, August 08, 2008
Cascading series of falls near North Bay, Ontario
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
You may visit peacecast.us HERE to download the podcast.
Today, August 6, 2008, Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba asked for the new U.S. president to support a proposed ban on nuclear weapons. Mayor Akiba is quoted extensively in our 2007 program.
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Obviously the terror-inducing U.S. anthrax attacks during the fall of 2001 fit in nicely with what the U.S. was doing to portray Iraq as the most dangerous regime in the world. Here's President Bush whipping up hysteria concerning Iraq and bioweapons on October 7, 2002 in his famous Cincinnati speech, given as he was pressuring Congress to pass the Iraq War Resolution:
President Bush: ... the regime was forced to admit that it had produced more than 30,000 liters of anthrax and other deadly biological agents. The inspectors, however, concluded that Iraq had likely produced two to four times that amount. This is a massive stockpile of biological weapons that has never been accounted for, and capable of killing millions. ...Now, news about the investigation into the October 2001 "anthrax by mail" attacks in the U.S. is hot again after the death by suicide of the latest FBI candidate for the culprit, another scientist within the U.S. military's own bioweapons program. The latest is that the suspect, the late Bruce Ivins, was some kind of whacko with an obsession with a college sorority.
We've also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas. We're concerned that Iraq is exploring ways of using these UAVS for missions targeting the United States. And, of course, sophisticated delivery systems aren't required for a chemical or biological attack; all that might be required are a small container and one terrorist or Iraqi intelligence operative to deliver it. ...
Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists. Alliance with terrorists could allow the Iraqi regime to attack America without leaving any fingerprints. ...
Glenn Greenwald has been all over this story, with several posts focusing on media contributions that helped President Bush falsely pin the anthrax threat on Iraq. Greenwald has his doubts about Ivins's guilt. THIS Democracy Now! segment suggests that the case should be far from closed, despite Ivins's suicide.
As Greenwald suggests, "extreme skepticism" should be the rule when dealing with any government or media claim concerning anthrax. I agree. Why might certain U.S. authorities want to keep the lid on the truth and the public diverted and confused? Perhaps it is because the U.S. itself, along with the U.K. have plenty to keep covered up. Both were key enablers of Iraq's actual bioweapons program during the 1980s.
Is there any evidence for this assertion? Yes. My old site carries an essential 2005 white paper on the subject written by contributor Geoffrey Holland. It is accessible HERE. Holland traces strains of anthrax shipped to Iraq through many decades of U.S. and U.K. bioweapons research, concluding "that the anthrax threat from Iraq, a repeatedly cited reason for the 2003 invasion of that country, actually originated from a dead cow in South Oxfordshire" in the U.K.
Holland argues that the "United States breached the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) by supplying warfare-related biological materials to Iraq during the 1980s" and should be sanctioned by the U.N. Security Council. Holland campaigned in the U.K. on this issue for several years, eventually garnering over 100 sponsors for a Parliamentary resolution demanding such a referral.
Today Juan Cole has more: "Bush Pressured FBI to Blame al-Qaeda for Anthrax", along with a fascinating item about how the notion that Iraq was anthrax central propagated through the U.S. media, even on entertainment shows and with the help of none other than John McCain.
Monday, August 04, 2008
Road through flowage near Sandhill Crane breeding sites
Prairie wildflowers like this Blazing Star in abundance
Video: Trumpeter Swans relaxing
Major operation: turning off of I-35
We have been seeing these massive trailer rigs that are used to carry huge wind machines up and down I-35 in Minnesota. We got caught behind one here, trying to make a turn from I-35 onto MN 95 in North Branch.
Our former landlords have an incredible permaculture going.
Friday, August 01, 2008
Tall ship at the Aerial Lift Bridge in Duluth yesterday
U.S. Brig Niagra in Duluth Inner Harbor
Local story HERE ...
Tall ships arrive in Duluth to the delight of thousands
Candace Renalls - Duluth News Tribune - Friday, August 01, 2008
With cannons? roar, a trio of tall ships, their white sails billowing in the wind, glided into Duluth Harbor Thursday afternoon to the delight of the thousands of people who gathered to watch.
The ships, including replicas of 1812 war ships, passed through the Aerial Lift Bridge beginning about 4 p.m., followed by an armada of smaller boats that later milled around as the big ships docked along Harbor Drive.
It was the first time in decades that many tall ships had sailed into the harbor at one time, harkening back to the mid- to late-1800s when sailing vessels moved cargo on the Great Lakes. The ships are here for this weekend?s Duluth Maritime Festival and will be open for public tours today through Sunday. ...