Friday, August 25, 2006

Katrina + 1 And State Farm Accused Of Dodging Claims

Investigators say State Farm Insurance buried or altered Katrina damage reports to avoid paying claims. Two whistleblowers who worked for the company for 8 years have turned over thousands of documents to the FBI. If I had any State Farm Stock I would sell it now, cause they are gonna take a really hard fall unless Bush and company come in and save them.

I have heard from friends along the gulf coast that have battled with their insurance companies for over a year and still have nothing. If we had a real government, hey would come in and cut through all this crap and make the insurance companies pay off. Funny how they are always fast with a collection notice when a premium is late, but have a claim? Good luck sucker!
Something is very, very wrong with this system and it must be changed soon.

Did Israel Uses Cluster Bombs In Civilian Areas?

About 10 years ago I visited a factory in Kansas. I was making an industrial documentary about the plant that made explosives and cluster bombs for the US Army. It so happened that I was there on the same day Bob Dole visited, and I watched the seasoned politician schmooze his way through the crowds of employees eager to shake his hand. He had come to assure them that another fat government contract was in the bag and they would be in business for a long time to come.

The cluster bombs they made gave me shivers. I shot tests of the individual bomblets and saw Army film of the full device in use. These were called "smart weapons" because they have a computer to guide them toward their target, however my first thought was how dumb they were. They scatter hundreds of bright yellow bomblets that look more like cans of tuna fish than weapons. These explode using a specially shaped explosive that sends a high powered stream of vaporized copper plasma out capable of burning through inches of armor. What they didn’t say in any of their explanations was that these bomblets often do not fully deploy and explode. They can litter the battlefield like unexploded land mines, which can later go off unexpectedly and burn holes through anyone unfortunate enough to be nearby.

These are the kind of weapons we have sold to the Israelis with the caveat that they not be used against civilians. Now we are investigating just that kind of use. It seems that Israel used these weapons in civilian areas of Lebanon, which violates the Geneva Convention. What I expect will come from these investigations will be the same thing that always comes from any problem with Israel. We will sweep it under the rug and nothing will come from it.

Israel and the US are allies, and I have no problem with that. However, repeatedly ignoring violations of UN sanctions, covert spying on the US and human rights violations makes this allegiance a problem. We must treat Israel like we would any other country and not like they were a favorite child. Our favoritism sends the wrong message to the other countries in the Middle-East. Israel as well as its neighbors must be held accountable for their actions, and while we are at it, so should we.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

GOP Wants Scarier Take On Iran Intelligence From CIA

Well apparently the news on Iran is not scary enough for the GOP. Some in that party are complaining that the threat is being downplayed by the CIA. The reality is that they want the country scared SH*%LESS. That is the only way they can increase their poll numbers and their chances of keeping control of congress in November. The real news is that people are not falling for it anymore.

They really want to cook the books again on the intelligence like last time, except we already fell for that lie and won’t be fooled again. Remember what Bush said, "fool me once, shame on me. Fool me …we won’t be fooled again!"

For once I agree wholeheartedly with the president.

What’s That Sound? Rosa Parks Spinning In Her Grave.

First a reminder, it’s 2006. Next the story, a bus driver in Coushatta, Louisana asked 9 black children attending Red River Elementary to relinquish their seats to white children and move to the back of the bus.

Again, it’s 2006! If this is not a reason for outrage I don’t know what is.

Pluto Demoted, Now A Dwarf Planet

In the second grade I won a blue ribbon in the city-wide Science Fair with a model of the solar system. At the time it included Pluto, but even then you could tell it was very different from the other planets. It’s orbit intersected that of Neptune, and it was so far from the sun that it took 247.7 Earth years to complete a cycle and it was tilted 17.5° from the plane of the other planets. Quite an odd-ball, little Pluto, but since it was named after one of my favorite Disney characters I loved it. Later I found its name came from Pluto ruler of the underworld, a name given it back in 1930.

For years there has been a question as to whether Pluto is a planet or something else, and finally the International Astronomical Union made the call. Pluto, along with its moon Charon as well as Ceres and Xena are "Dwarf Planets". Guess I will have to give the blue ribbon back.

The strange thing is that there is a public cry against demoting Pluto. Rather than accept the wisdom of people who make their living studying the universe, people want Pluto a planet because they like it. And least you think this is the product of too many home-schooled Americans, it’s worldwide. What difference does it make? Pluto is still there, in fact NASA has a spacecraft traveling there right now. It’s still a very interesting object and better to spend time studying it than debating its status in our definition of a planet.

My hope is that perhaps this will get a few more kids interested in astronomy, if for no other reason than to learn enough to prove Pluto deserves planethood after all.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Former CIA Security Unit Head Says US More Vulnerable To Attack Than Prior To 9/11

Michael Scheuer headed up the CIA’s Bin Laden task force and had a 22-year career in the organization. He resigned in 2004. In a recent interview in Harper’s, Michael sees the United States less secure now than before 9/11. He concedes that legal entry points have been fortified, but almost every other entry to the country remains unprotected.

As regard to terrorist organizations:
"We can't capture them one by one and bring them to justice. There are too many
of them, and more now than before September 11. In official Western rhetoric
these are finite organizations, but every time we interfere in Muslim countries
they get more support."

The interview is very revealing and depressing. It shows the ineffectiveness of the Bush administration in their alleged "War on Terror" and how little real security it provides. I would be tempted to call Bush incompetent, but in reality I think he has done no more that lead us down the path that his conservatism logically points. An ideologically driven dictatorship by a strong paternal power figure is the end result of the Neocon agenda. The big problem is that is not what Democracy should be. Bush, I suspect would agree with John Adams when he said that monarchy was the most stable form of government. Maybe so, but the only monarchies left have been stripped of their power and the few that still function like Saudi Arabia are despotic. That’s not the kind of country I want.

Baggy Pants Big Issue For Dallas City Council

The Dallas City Council, apparently not too busy today is debating an ordinance to ban droopy pants. The low-rider pants, a style popular among many young people may have actually started in jails where they confiscate belts as a security precaution. The trend apparently is so disruptive, the city council has to chime in.

Already limited in schools, this ban would extend to the city limits. I suspect the ACLU will join the fray sooner or later and well they should. Granted, the fashion looks not only ghetto, but downright goofy. Yet, my generation faced the same challenge with bell-bottoms in the 1960’s. Seems people just can’t get over allowing someone else to look silly without trying to pass an ordinance against it.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

43,443 Americans Killed In 2005 And No War On Traffic Deaths

Where is the outrage? 43,443 Americans dead and no word from the president? Whyh no war on traffic deaths, a war we can actually win with education and enforcement, without causing any more damage or death. Not macho enough for our government I guess. Now if we could stage a photo op with Bush roaring up to the cameras on a police Harley with a bulging crotch, well that might work.

This figure puts the deaths at the hands of terrorists in perspective. Most of those killed were innocent victims and yet nobody even writes one editorial. As a country we really have our priorities screwed up.

August 23 And The World Didn't End

Well, at the risk of tempting fate, it’s past midnight in the Middle East and the world didn’t end. ABC news ran a ridiculous story about clerics predicting the battle of Armageddon on August 22. Well it’s the 23 and no battle. Guess this one will go down like the "Great Disappointment" back in 1844 when a preacher named Miller had so many people convinced the world would end that they gave up their jobs and followed him to a place where they would be whisked up to heaven. That day was October 22. Funny how that number crops up.

Well, so many of Millers followers were disappointed that they formed their own religion, Seventh Day Adventists. Maybe a new religion will start tomorrow, who knows. The truth is that the fear campaign goes on. Keep playing that fear card GOP it will get you nowhere.

Homeland Security Wants Unprecedented Access To Personal Data

Would you feel safer if the Government had unlimited access to all your personal information? Credit card info, banking, telephone, Internet, mail, library records and more? The typical response is, "well if I am not doing anything wrong why not?" Why not changes to why do you need that when the motives behind the snooping is questionable.

Remember that the Bush administration claimed that they had evidence of WMD in Iraq. That Iraq and Al Qaeda were linked. That Iraq was seeking yellow cake uranium from Niger. The list of lies by Bush and company grows longer every day, and that should make you a bit skeptical about them seeking more power and information about your private life.

Certhoff now wants an unprecedented amount of data about travelers. Will this make us safer? I doubt it. This is the same department that let New Orleans drown and still refuses to screen containers for possible bombs. Why do they need this info? Well, enough of the questions. Personally, I sincerely believe they will either not be able to process so much new information, or will use it to find political enemies rather than terrorists. Remember that these guys had no problem compromising our security and outing a CIA operative just to destroy a political career of a whistleblower.

Vermont Town Wants To Ban Nudity

Coming from Texas, this is a really weird story to me. You see, here in the Bible Belt, not wearing clothes is something akin to murder, maybe worse. I suspect there are Bible thumpers who take baths in bathing suits and have never seen another human being naked. The straight-laced zanies here would explode during Brattleboro Vermont’s "Breast Fest" where thousands of women paraded topless down main street.

Seems that there is no ordinance against public nudity in Vermont, and consequently sunny days bring a number of nude sunbathers to local parks and parking lots. It sounds very European to me. In many European countries the rare sunny day is a time to soak up any rays you can . Topless sunbathers are common, even in city parks.

Now someone got their panties in a wad and want nudity banned. What a pity. Before this nobody thought sun bathing nude was wrong. It was just natural. Now that we have moralists trying to impose their views on the public it’s become a "sin".

Monday, August 21, 2006

Republican Pundit Asks, "Is Bush An Idiot?" Naw, He's Probably Just Drunk.

Sounding at times delusional in the news conference, it seems that Bush is even having trouble with his Neocon stooges. Joe Scarborough, former Republican congressman and staunch supporter hosted a segment on MSNBC titles, "Is Bush an Idiot?"

Not exactly the kind of stuff you want to hear from the right when you are under fire from the left already. What’s more worrisome is the ad-lib remarks made earlier to the press where Bush could not even finish a sentence coherently.

If I were a betting man, I would say Bush needs a meeting really bad, and probably should consider treatment. On the good side, he admitted today that Iraq never had anything to do with Al-Queda or 9/11. Maybe this is part of his 4h step. There but for the grace of God go I.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

CNN Features Really Scary Graphics! Are You Afraid Now?

Booga, booga, booga! There are you afraid now? No? How about this? Terror, terrorists, living in your neighborhood, on your street, NEXT DOOR!!!! Afraid now?

No? Then you are like most Americans. You aren't buying it anymore. Yes there are terrorists out there and they are probably in the country already, they were on 9/11 and the will be in the future. Should we cower in fear and let the Bush administration take away more rights? Hell no.

That is the opinion of most people in this country and it shows in the lack of gain in Bush’s approval ratings after the British terror plot was foiled. Even after the spate of non-news reports of planes stopping to unload delusional passengers, and mistaken bomb sniffing dogs in Italy. There will be terrorists until our policies change and most folks know that.

Now CNN joins Faux News in trying to scare people. Their new TERROR 2.0 banners are almost ludicrous in their obvious pandering to fear. You have to wonder who is feeding them this crap.