Friday, December 09, 2005

Bush Whacked On Global Warming

This is just too juice:
Clinton Says Bush Is 'Flat Wrong' on Kyoto

By CHARLES J. HANLEY, AP Special Correspondent
1 hour, 1 minute ago

MONTREAL - Former President Clinton told a global audience of diplomats, environmentalists and others Friday that the Bush administration is "flat wrong" in claiming that reducing greenhouse-gas emissions to fight global warming would damage the U.S. economy.

With a "serious disciplined effort" to develop energy-saving technology, he said, "we could meet and surpass the Kyoto targets in a way that would strengthen and not weaken our economies."

Clinton, a champion of the Kyoto Protocol, the existing emissions-controls agreement opposed by the Bush administration, spoke in the final hours of a two-week U.N. climate conference at which Washington has come under heavy criticism for its stand.

Most delegations appeared ready Friday to leave an unwilling United States behind and open a new round of negotiations on future cutbacks in the emissions blamed for global warming.

"There's no longer any serious doubt that climate change is real, accelerating and caused by human activities," said Clinton, whose address was interrupted repeatedly by enthusiastic applause. "We are uncertain about how deep and the time of arrival of the consequences, but we are quite clear they will not be good."

Canadian officials said the U.S. delegation was displeased with the last-minute scheduling of the Clinton speech. But U.S. delegation chief Paula Dobriansky issued a statement saying events like Clinton's appearance "are useful opportunities to hear a wide range of views on global climate change."

Thought For The Weekend

The War On Christmas: New York Style

Christmas debate at Manhasset tree lighting


When the Rev. Nick Zientarski invoked the name of Jesus Christ during his traditional blessing of the official Christmas tree lighting in Manhasset last week, he had no idea he had signed on as a soldier in the culture wars over Christmas.

Even as he spoke, the Roman Catholic priest said he could hear North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman angrily objecting behind him, "this is inappropriate." Then, Kaiman got up and told the crowd, "I just want to make it clear that this is in no way a religious ceremony."

A collective gasp came from the 200 adults and children gathered around the gazebo across from Town Hall. Nothing has been the same since in this well-heeled community that counts at least a dozen houses of worship in about 2 square miles.

"I have to tell you that Manhasset is in an uproar" over Kaiman's remarks, said Christine Roberts, who is Jewish and attended the ceremony with her two sons. "It really was the wrong thing to say at the wrong time. There is a lot of hostility going around. Angry letters to the editor of the local paper. Angry conversations. Insanity has absolutely overtaken this town."

John Kiggins, owner of Manhasset Sporting Goods, was so angry with the "disrespectful" way Kaiman treated the priest that he sent him a furious e-mail. "Manhasset is a predominantly Christian town and it's a conservative town," said Kiggins, a parishioner at St. Mary's, where Zientarski is a priest. "There's a certain number of us who believe that if we're celebrating Christmas, then call it Christmas and recognize that we're celebrating the birth of Christ. And the event was billed as a Christmas tree lighting. Had it not been billed that way, I probably wouldn't have gone."

A week later, despite public mea culpas from a white-faced Kaiman at a meeting Wednesday night and, again, in a letter to the editor in yesterday's Manhasset Press, angry constituents are still calling and sending letters. Some did not even witness the event, but heard about it through a widely disseminated e-mail from the priest.
Kaiman, who is Jewish, said that his reaction to the blessing had nothing to do with his own faith, but related to his concern the town might be perceived as sponsoring a sectarian religious event. He said he has apologized to the priest as well as to St. Mary's pastor.

Zientarski, for one, said he accepts that apology. He sent out a second e-mail yesterday, noting Kaiman's effort to mend fences. "He definitely recognizes the offense he committed and he's truly sorry," the priest said. "As Catholics, we want to offer forgiveness and give people a second chance."

Still, Zientarski issued a call to arms to everyone on his e-mail list to defend Christmas. "Call your stores and encourage them to say, 'Merry Christmas' (and Happy Hannukah too)," he wrote. "Look for those Nativity scenes! We should all be proud to be Christians who believe in the Lord, Our Savior, and we should encourage ALL faiths to be people of 'faith,' not 'holidays' and the secular."
(emphasis added) I wasn't going to comment on this, but it appears that this has gotten a bit of a visceral reaction from my gut.

OK, Christians???? Gather round. Take a knee.

The time has come to admit something to ourselves: we don't own or run the world. Moreover, we don't own the public square. It's a holiday ceremony, featuring a pagan symbol co-opted by medieval Christians as a decoration, commemorating...what, precisely?

Our Lord's birth? He was born in a fucking desert, not the Ardene forest.

Grow up. Maybe the town supervisor's reaction was over the top, but Manhasset is ALSO home to a significant Jewish population, many of whom attended that ceremony. And Hannukkah is nearly as important in the Jewish faith as Jesus' birth is in the Christian (keeping a clear eye on the fact that it is Easter that defines Christianity, for without that, Jesus is just another wacko Jewish prophet running around Galilee).

Can we PLEASE grow up now? It's only been two thousand fucking years!

Seperated At Birth?


Remember this little exchange from the first Presidential debate last year?
KERRY: The United Nations, Kofi Annan offered help after Baghdad fell. And we never picked him up on that and did what was necessary to transfer authority and to transfer reconstruction. It was always American-run.

Secondly, when we went in, there were three countries: Great Britain, Australia and the United States. That's not a grand coalition. We can do better.

LEHRER: Thirty seconds, Mr. President.

BUSH: Well, actually, he forgot Poland. And now there's 30 nations involved, standing side by side with our American troops.
Come this now. Suddenly, we see how Poland mattered.
Poland was main CIA detention base in Europe: Human Rights Watch

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland was the heart of the CIA's secret detention network in Europe, with bases there until recently holding a quarter of the 100 detainees estimated held in such camps worldwide, a human rights group said.

Reports of the CIA operating secret jails in Poland and Romania as part of its war on terror have raised controversy on both sides of the Atlantic and dogged U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's European trip this week.

"Poland was the main base for CIA interrogations in Europe, while Romania played more of a role in the transfer of detained prisoners," Marc Garlasco, a leading analyst at Human Rights Watch, was quoted by Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza on Friday as saying.

Garlasco said the CIA had set up two detention centers in Poland, which were closed shortly after the Washington Post published an article about secret prisons last month.

He said the allegations were based on information from CIA sources and other documents obtained by Human Rights Watch. "We have leads, circumstantial evidence to check but it's too early to reveal them," Garlasco said.

Polish authorities have repeatedly denied the existence of secret jails of any form on Polish territory, with Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkieicz saying this week he would fully cooperate in human rights probes into the allegations.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

George Pataki: Trying To Save The GOP's bacon

Gov fires at Assembly

Pataki accuses Dems of blocking gun legislation


Gov. Pataki accused Assembly Democrats yesterday of standing in the way of a crackdown on gun traffickers - suggesting the legislative logjam could lead to tragedies like the slaying of a Brooklyn cop killed with an illegal firearm.
"I hope now that they will realize that the failure to pass this legislation has very real consequences," Pataki said one day after the funeral of Officer Dillon Stewart, a 35-year-old father of two young daughters.

Pataki has been pushing for mandatory prison time for thugs who peddle multiple guns illegally. But the Assembly leadership's version of a crackdown would allow gunrunners caught with fewer than 20 firearms to get probation.

"It is disappointing to me that today if you have 19 illegal handguns and you are arrested by police, the crime is the same as if you shoplifted an orange from a grocery store," Pataki said, adding, "It is criminal, it is wrong."
That's not entirely true, however it IS true that the Assembly was the only body to do ANYTHING on gun control this year.

This bill was passed in May 2005. And while it does offer severe penalties for more than 20 illegal guns held for the purposes of sale, the penalties for holding even three guns are equivalent to that of holding 20 guns:
Section 6 of the bill amends section 265.02 of the Penal Law defining the class D violent felony of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree by inserting gender-neutral references and by reducing
from 20 to 3 the number of firearms required to be possessed to constitute a violation
of paragraph (i) of subdivision 5 of that section.
So three guns are equivalent to 20 guns in this bill.

The state Senate, led by Joseph "Never Met a Bribe I Didn't Take" Bruno quietly killed this bill before it came to the floor of the Senate.
But aides to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said lawmakers in the lower house this year passed a package of "tough" measures that the Republican-led Senate blocked.
And even took a bite outta Pataki:
Silver sarcastically responded that he was surprised Pataki was speaking out on a New York issue - because the governor's been spending so much time testing the waters for a presidential run.

"Nobody is really governing New York," Silver charged.
The governor's response to this bill and it being stalled? Glad you asked:
Pataki's criminal justice czar, Chauncey Parker, said his boss and the Senate don't support the Assembly bill because it would allow some gun traffickers to get probation.
So some might get probation, but you know what? If it takes ANY guns off the streets right now, why do we care? Let's work that stuff out later.

They Must Really Be Desperate For Soldiers

Medford single mother called back to active duty in Iraq


December 8, 2005

While most of her friends and neighbors are amusing themselves with Christmas decorations and holiday gifts, Patricia Arndt is fretting over far more serious matters.

The single mother from Medford has been unexpectedly pulled from the inactive Army reserve and ordered to report for active duty by Feb. 5.

As Christmas nears, Arndt, 43, is trying to sell the Medford home she says she will not be able to keep on an Army salary of approximately $60,000 a year, and is searching for someone to care for her 13-year-old son, Shane. She expects to train for an 18-month tour of duty that could take her to Iraq or Afghanistan.

She said she never saw her return to active duty as a possibility. "Never in a million years," she said.

"This is a very hard thing for me," she said. "I absolutely love my country. I feel I owe it to the Army and my fellow soldiers, because I wouldn't be here without them.

"If I were a reservist assigned to a unit, I'd have been trained and informed of the possibility that I would be called. I'm not prepared for this."

U.S. Army officials said Arndt is not being treated unfairly.

"Single parents are treated no differently than any other soldier, and are expected to have a family care plan at all times," said Army spokeswoman Lt. Col. Pamela Hart.
How....special, Col., um, Hart, a dubiously name for an officer if I've ever heard one.

Ms. Arndt is a respiratory therapist at a major medical facility on Long Island.

Here's the kicker: Arndt served a four year tour of duty.

Twenty years ago.

Now, formerly, Army policy was not to call up this type of reservist to fill in for combat duty. Her status these past twenty years has been as an Individual Ready Reserve, which meant she could be called up domestically to sub in for a full-time Army troop dispatched to a front line somewhere.

But...well, let Newsday say more:
The war in Iraq, now 21/2 years old, has changed that. Currently, more than 6,500 ready reservists have been called back to active duty, including Chief Warrant Officer Margaret Murray, 56, of Schenectady. While receiving training at Fort Jackson last year, Murray told Newsday that she hoped she would not be sent into combat. If she is sent, she said, "I'll do the best I can."
Now comes the really sad part of this story:
Arndt, who is also appealing her orders, is far from alone. Almost 8 percent of all current Army personnel -- and 13.8 percent of female soldiers -- are single parents, the officials said.

How does Bush sleep at night?

In Memoriam

I've always believed it was ironic that the lyrics of his last album included the line "Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans."

Twisted individuals destroy creative geniuses, that seems to be the legacy of America since World War II. One can tie this thought in so many ways: the debate over evolution, the rise of the fear-mongering Christian right, the persecution of President Clinton, the assassinations of John, Robert, and Martin, and of course, this John.

But stupidity abides. Reagan outlived his feeble, small mind. I suspect Bush will as well.

You may be gone, John.

But you are far from forgotten. While this mortal coil contains idiots, the larger world that you now inhabit only allows for genius. I aspire one day to join you there.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Maybe Jeanine Pirro SHOULD Have Baked Pataki's Cookies....

A tabloid smelled blood in the water, speculating that Albert Pirro Jr., the Westchester district attorney's baggage-carrying husband, was working behind the scenes to undermine his wife's campaign. More likely, considering Al Pirro's political connections: the makings of a coordinated campaign to see that a "spontaneous" groundswell of support drafts Jeanine Pirro for a New York attorney general run. Phoenix rises; Clinton gets other company.
In the race for most scandalous husband, while Hillary has a huge advantage in terms of media play, Jeanine's husband Al would "hands-down" win on criminality.

I'm seeing that State Senate leader Joe Bruno is probably offering Albert some cushy contracts in the next legislature. That would be my guess for all this pressure being applied.

Of course, Albert may just have more skeletons in the closet than he has let on, and is trying to save Jeanine's face on December 12th.

Hard to say. Graft and the New York GOP is a little like candy and kids: you can't scrape the one off the other.

Imagine There's No Curfew

This started as part of Rudy Giuliani's idiotic crime prevention scheme, but I'm ashamed to say it's continued on in the Bloomberg years, particularly on such a poignant anniversary:
Lennon fans won't be able to imagine past curfew


December 7, 2005

Fans who converge in Strawberry Fields Thursday night to mark the 25th anniversary of John Lennon's death won't get to stay past the park's usual 1 a.m. curfew, despite the pleas from vigil organizers.

Candido Bonilla, a Rockaway Park trumpet player who helps organize the annual gathering, said the city should make an exception to the rule given Lennon's worldwide appeal, the fact he lived in New York when he died and that this year marks the 25th anniversary.

"He was a great leader of our time," Bonilla said. "We feel the least the city should do is to allow the vigil to go uninterrupted, to let it run its course."

The former Beatle, famous around the globe for such songs as "Imagine" and "All You Need is Love" featuring lyrics that promoted peace and kindness, was gunned down Dec. 8, 1980 in Manhattan.

Until the Rudy Giuliani mayoral administration, vigil participants were allowed to stay in the park as long as they wished, organizers said.
I probably will go tomorrow night, weather and health permitting.

John is dead. Miss him. Miss him. Miss him.

Santa Fitz Is Coming To Towwwwwwwwwwwn....

RedHedd at Firedog Lake (who really ought to bill herself as president of the Patrick Fitzgerald Fan Club International), has an item up that Pat Fitzgerald is heading back in front of a grand jury today with testimony in hand.

Give it a look.

Christmas In A New Orleans Mall, Courtesy of George W. Bush

A Gamble of Evidence On Global Warming

You may remember a movie out last year called The Day After Tomorrow, about a sudden cataclysmic climate change overtaking the world, and plunging it deep into an ice age.

Turns out, the truth may (and I stress may) not be so far from fiction.

Is Europe Due For a Big Chill?
By shutting down ocean currents, global warming could actually cool things offBy MICHAEL D. LEMONICK

[L]ast week...scientists from Britain's National Oceanography Center reported in Nature that a component of the oceanic current system that drives the Gulf Stream has slowed by 30% since 1992. The likely, paradoxical cause? Global warming. While climate experts around the world caution that the data are too preliminary to be definitive, "the result," writes University of Hamburg climatologist Detlef Quadfasel in a commentary on the study that also appears in Nature, "is alarming."

It's also not entirely unexpected. Back in the 1980s, Wallace Broecker, a geophysicist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, was trying to understand why temperatures in Greenland had plunged dramatically several times over the past 70,000 years. His theory: fresh water, perhaps from melting glaciers, might have diluted the ocean's salinity, making it harder for cooling water to sink and return southward to pick up more heat. That could shut off the entire "conveyor belt" of water that keeps Europe temperate. It's hard to determine precisely what would have caused such a big thaw 70,000 years back, but we do know that today global warming is causing more meltwater to stream into the North Atlantic from glaciers and older sea ice, which is lower in salt. Could the conveyor belt stop again?

Climate experts are not sure--and some have serious reservations about the new paper--mostly because the observed change is happening too fast. Computer models predict that it should take at least 100 years to weaken the ocean conveyor belt. What's more, nobody was even measuring those currents before 1957. Says Broecker: "We don't know how much the flow bounces around normally."

Clearly, pieces are still missing from the equation, so even the scientists who wrote the study counsel against panic. Rather than be worried, says co-author Stuart Cunningham, "people should be more interested and concerned. The ocean seems to have changed in a large enough way to be detectable." It's something, in other words, to keep an eye on.
A 30% drop in less than 15 years. And things are only getting warmer each year, so that's probably accelerated since.

Now, Nature magazine is not some eco-terror organ, but is a bona fide referreed science magazine, which means that the research and the conclusions drawn from that research must pass rigorous vetting. Not to say they are always right, but that the experiments have been validated, the results have been vetted and the conclusions drawn are reasonable based on the evidence presented.

Kinda scary stuff, wouldn't you agree? This would put Europe squarely in competition for oil and natural gas and unlike us, they don't have a Canada or Mexico sitting right on the doorstep for supplies.

They'll need to go to the Middle East. Any wonder why they are not lifting a finger to assist us in Iraq?

Not To Toot My Own Horn, But...

Everyone that I nominated (and campaign-managed) for Brilliant Blogger, won for November!

Congratulations, Agitprop (who had really tough competition in Shakespeare's Sister AND Pam's House Blend, two very heavyweight political blogs), my good friends Vesti at The Intellectual Comedy Salon (if you haven't read his stuff, go. It's a treat!), and Fantod at Voodoo Innuendo.

Hm. Maybe I should try this shtick out in real life...

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Bloomberg's Billions

Y'know, it wasn't that long ago that this type of money would buy the Presidency for you. Talk about inflation!
Bloomberg spends more than $77 million on re-election


December 6, 2005

The gilded 2005 campaign of Mayor Michael Bloomberg ended up spending more than $103 for each vote he got, topping the record he set four years ago.

New disclosure forms show that Bloomberg had experienced campaign volunteers flown into town to work the final week, and even gave his canvassers tens of thousands of dollars' worth of MetroCards.

"It is what it is," Bloomberg said Monday at a Manhattan news conference. "I spent my own money. I had a big message to get out and we did get the message out. ... I'm very proud of the campaign we put together."

The $77,894,878 cost figure posted by the Bloomberg camp Monday is 12 percent higher than the $69,843,000 he'd shelled out by this time in 2001.

In this past election, Bloomberg received 753,089 votes on the Republican and Independence lines, to 503,219 for Democrat Fernando Ferrer, whose campaign as of Oct. 28 had spent a relatively small $7,655,005.

The Ferrer camp Monday said its spending number would total about $9.5 million, or about $19 for each vote he got.
Y'know, he could have just bought me a couple of cases of beer, and I'd have been OK to vote for him. I wonder how many people would have gone for that? :-)

Seriously, $78MM is about 2% of his estimated net worth. Estimates for the upcoming Senate race in which Hillary Clinton will defend her job versus SomeDumbSchmuck will come in at about the same level.

I know Bloomberg said he didn't want to run for higher office, at least at this time. It makes you wonder why he felt he needed to spend so much? Is vanity a legitimate motive, especially in a mayoral race?

And I note his excuse, or rather, non-excuse: "It is what it is."

I wish that worked in more places. Imagine coming home late at night, reeking of alcohol and someone else's scent?

"It is what it is."

Truly, a Zen moment in American politics.

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Judgement At Nuremberg

Apparently, HBO and Showtime knew that I was home all weekend, and so put on a series of great films (coincidentally, starring Spencer Tracy), which made me think a bit about the United States.

First up, Judgement At Nuremberg

Ernst Janning: There was a fever over the land. A fever of disgrace, of indignity, of hunger. We had a democracy, yes, but it was torn by elements within. There was, above all, fear. Fear of today, fear of tomorrow, fear of our neighbors, fear of ourselves. Only when you understand that can you understand what Hitler meant to us. Because he said to us: 'Lift up your heads! Be proud to be German! There are devils among us. Communists, Liberals, Jews, Gypsies! Once the devils will be destroyed, your miseries will be destroyed.' It was the old, old story of the sacrifical lamb. What about us, who knew better? We who knew the words were lies and worse than lies? Why did we sit silent? Why did we participate? Because we loved our country! What difference does it make if a few political extremists lose their rights? What difference does it make if a few racial minorities lose their rights? It is only a passing phase. It is only a stage we are going through. It will be discarded sooner or later. 'The country is in danger.' We will 'march out of the shadows.' 'We will go forward.' And history tells you how well we succeeded! We succeeded beyond our wildest dreams. The very elements of hate and power about Hitler that mesmerized Germany, mesmerized the world! We found ourselves with sudden powerful allies. Things that had been denied us as a democracy were open to us now. The world said go ahead, take it! Take Sudetenland, take the Rhineland - remilitarize it - take all of Austria, take it! We marched forward, the danger passed. And then one day, we looked around and found we were in even more terrible danger. The rites began in this courtroom, swept over our land like a raging, roaring disease! What was going to be a passing phase became a way of life.

Judge Dan Haywood: Janning, to be sure, is a tragic figure. We believe he loathed the evil he did. But compassion for the present torture of his soul must not beget forgetfulness of the torture and death of millions by the government of which he was a part. Janning's record and his fate illuminate the most shattering truth that has emerged from this trial. If he and the other defendants were all depraved perverts - if the leaders of the Third Reich were sadistic monsters and maniacs - these events would have no more moral significance than an earthquake or other natural catastrophes. But this trial has shown that under the stress of a national crisis, men - even able and extraordinary men - can delude themselves into the commission of crimes and atrocities so vast and heinous as to stagger the imagination. No one who has sat through this trial can ever forget. The sterilization of men because of their political beliefs... The murder of children... How easily that can happen. There are those in our country today, too, who speak of the protection of the country. Of survival. The answer to that is: survival as what? A country isn't a rock. And it isn't an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for, when standing for something is the most difficult. Before the people of the world - let it now be noted in our decision here that this is what we stand for: justice, truth... and the value of a single human being.
(emphasis added)

A warning to America if I've ever heard one. In this simple exchange (OK, separated by five minutes of screen time or so, but Haywood IS responding to Janning's speech), we see both how a society can corrupt itself by indulging in fear and hatred and rage, and why it must not.

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Inherit The Wind

The other great movie that got me to thinking this weekend was Inherit The Wind
Henry Drummond: Can't you understand? That if you take a law like evolution and you make it a crime to teach it in the public schools, tomorrow you can make it a crime to teach it in the private schools? And tomorrow you may make it a crime to read about it. And soon you may ban books and newspapers. And then you may turn Catholic against Protestant, and Protestant against Protestant, and try to foist your own religion upon the mind of man. If you can do one, you can do the other. Because fanaticism and ignorance is forever busy, and needs feeding. And soon, your Honor, with banners flying and with drums beating we'll be marching backward, BACKWARD, through the glorious ages of that Sixteenth Century when bigots burned the man who dared bring enlightenment and intelligence to the human mind!
How true is this?

We're seeing it happen now. The Intelligent Design manifesto walks lock-step with the right wing who wish to see all the progress of the past fifty years remanded to the dustbin of history, a failed attempt by man to swing down from his tree and walk upright on the savannah of enlightenment and truth, to think for himself, free from the will of God, for what is man if he has not the capacity to think?
Henry Drummond: Then why did God plague us with the capacity to think? Mr. Brady, why do you deny the one thing that sets above the other animals? What other merit have we? The elephant is larger, the horse stronger and swifter, the butterfly more beautiful, the mosquito more prolific, even the sponge is more durable. Or does a sponge think?

Matthew Harrison Brady: I don't know. I'm a man, not a sponge!

Henry Drummond: Do you think a sponge thinks?

Matthew Harrison Brady: If the Lord wishes a sponge to think, it thinks!

Henry Drummond: Does a man have the same privilege as a sponge?

Matthew Harrison Brady: Of course!

Henry Drummond: Then this man wishes to have the same privilege of a sponge, he wishes to think!
What harm is there in a man thinking, independent of any authority, divine or earthly? Is it not how we act on those thoughts that define us as human, as humane and good, or inhumane and evil? Do we act out of fear and rage, or do we act out of compassion and an earnest self-preservation that includes not only ourselves, and our families, but the good of the society we live in?

Isn't that, ultimately, that provides God's rationale for our existence? He didn't banish Adam and Eve from the Garden for being evil, He banished them because they chose the good of themselves over the good of the society around them.

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The Flypaper Theory

You know, the so-called "Flypaper Theory" (popularized as "We must fight them there so we don't fight them here!"), has been debunked so many times that it's frightening that the right wing continues to bring it up as a justification.

Today's news, however, brings something into focus for me as regards that theory, and points out yet another reason it's idiotic to fight a land war in South Asia.

Suicide bombers kill 27 at Iraq police academy

The first explosion occurred as police cadets headed to lunch after shooting practice, said Nizal Mahmoud Khalaf, a police trainee who survived the blasts. The second bomber struck as the cadets ran for shelter, he told Reuters outside a hospital where the wounded were treated.

The U.S. military, who initially said the bombers walked into a classroom and blew themselves up, later said one of the bombers struck near a group of students outside a classroom.

Thinking the explosion was an attack from outside, Iraqi police officers and students ran to a bunker for shelter, where the second bomber detonated his vest strapped with explosives, the military said.
Lately, the targets of insurgent attacks (which modestly abated after the offensive near the Syrian border, but have roared back anew) have been Iraqis who are full-out cooperating with American efforts to re-arm the military and re-establish a police force.

So the question becomes, why?

Given Bush's intransigence regarding removing an American presence in the country, one begins to see that the Flypaper Theory has actually worked in reverse: by placing troops over there, we've lightened the burden enormously for Al Qaeda and other terror organizations to accomplish what they swore to do in jihad: kill Americans.

Too, we've sent them the cream of the crop: our youngest, most ambitious kids, not even career Army but the kids who joined the Guard and Reserves in order to get a college education and a signing bonus.

Entire generations of families will be snuffed out as this war there continues, and the Islamists lick their chops every morning that our ineffective and ineffectual response remains tied into a military dominance strategy relying heavily on getting the natives armed for conflict (yea, there's a good if guns here haven't proven deadly enough...) and then bugging out.

There has to be a solution, unfortunately the sole body capable of enforcing that solution, the United Nations, has been both asked to, and on it's own accord, wash its hands of this business.

So what to do?

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Monday, December 05, 2005

Why Guns Need To Be Controlled In America

Judge Jack Weinstein spelled out how firearms makers flood New York with illegal weapons when he upheld the city's right to sue last week. Here's how he summed up the charges:

The United States leads the world in the number of people and in the number of children who die and are injured each year by guns. The yearly toll of several thousand persons killed compares to no more than a few hundred per year in every other industrialized country. A teenager in the United States is more likely to die from a gunshot wound than from all natural causes combined.

Firearms are by far the preferred method of murder in New York City, and are used in approximately 60% of the murders committed each year. In 1996, 652 people were murdered with a firearm in New York City; in 1997, 465 were murdered with guns; in 1998, 375; and in 1999, 391.

Approximately double the number of persons are injured by the criminal use of firearms with over 2,000 criminal shooting victims reported each year in New York City.

Firearms are also used in connection with many crimes other than murder. [In] 1998, for example, of the 39,358 reported robberies in the city, 7,640 or approximately 20% involved the use of firearm.

In that same year, of the 2,181 reported felony reckless endangerment cases, 23% involved the use of a firearm and 20% of menacing cases also involved the use of a firearm. These figures are typical of more recent years.

In the period from Aug. 1, 1997, through July 31, 1998, the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, through its National Firearms Tracing Database, traced 8,437 guns used in crimes in New York City. The 8,437 crime guns traced were used in the commission of 433 robberies, 309 assaults/threats, 278 homicides, 143 narcotics crimes, 101 burglaries/thefts/frauds, and 7,123 firearms-related offenses. ... The actual number of defendants'"crime guns" used in New York City over the last five years is vastly higher.


Criminals are an important market segment for the gun industry. Recent analyses have shown that 11% of handguns sold between 1996 and 2000 were used in violent crimes by the year 2000; 18% of handguns sold in the year 1990 were in the hands of violent criminals or used in violent crimes by the year 2000.

Recent analyses have shown that guns move quickly from the legal to the illegal market; 13% of guns recovered in crimes were recovered within one year of their sale, and 30% were recovered within three years of their first sale.

ATF trace data indicates that as many as 43% of guns used in crimes in urban centers across the U.S. were purchased from retail dealers less than three years prior to commission of the crime.


Straw purchases, wherein the purchaser buys the gun from a licensed dealer for a person who is not qualified to purchase the firearm under federal and state regulations, are a source of firearms for the secondary market. In one recent law enforcement study, more than 50% of the firearms subject to firearm trafficking investigations had been acquired as part of a straw purchase.


According to a recent ATF study, just 1.2% of dealers accounted for over 57% of the crime guns traced to current dealers in 1998. ... A congressional study of ATF data found that an extraordinary proportion of crime guns were purchased from the same"high crime" gun dealers. The same 137 dealers were the source of more than 34,000 crime guns between 1996 and 1998.


Defendants produce, market and distribute substantially more handguns than they reasonably expect to sell to law-abiding purchasers. They oversupply states with weak handgun controls and restrictions, such as certain southern states along the I-95 corridor, with substantially more handguns than they know or should know will be purchased by legitimate purchasers in those states.


Over 84% of the crime guns recovered in New York City come from out of state. Of these crime guns, the top source states were Virginia (414), Florida (329), Georgia (282), North Carolina (268), South Carolina (224), Pennsylvania (159), Ohio (136), Alabama (106) and Texas (99).

Handguns manufactured, imported or distributed by defendants are acquired in states and cities where gun regulations are lax, diverted to the illegal market in New York, and used to cause injury, death or the threat thereof to residents of the City of New York.

Weak New York Political Parties

I spent much of the weekend pondering the events of last week's GOP unravelling, and then comparing it to what happened to the NY Democratic party when Al D'Amato was effectively running the state (even Cuomo had to cut a bargain with D'Amato to keep his office).

Imagine my surprise this morning to find out that I was not the only one wondering what the future of politics in NY is going to be:
It's time for changes in NY party lines

Dan Janison

December 5, 2005

Sixty-eight years ago, Democrat Jeremiah Mahoney racked up 890,756 votes for mayor, but lost in a record landslide to Republican Fiorello LaGuardia.

Last month, Republican Michael Bloomberg drew only 753,089 votes, but basks in the glow of what some compare to LaGuardia's romp of 1937.

How? Simple. Two of three registered voters sat out the election.

The city in 2005 saw 1,315,360 ballots cast for Bloomberg, Fernando Ferrer, Tom Ognibene and everyone else - combined. The total includes dozens of write-ins, whose names, as soberly certified by the Board of Elections, included Serpico, William Clinton, Jesus Christ, Bella Abzug and Daffy Duck.

Compare that to 1937, when an astounding 2,300,220 people voted. And the city then had as many as a million fewer residents than it does today. All by himself, LaGuardia that year garnered 1,344,630 votes, according to figures dug up by consultant Joe Mercurio.

Even if you suspect that many more of the dead were voting back in the old days, the contrast is glaring.

The city's depressed turnout is nothing unique. Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi, a Democrat, also glided to re-election Nov. 8 as about one in three local voters showed up. And Nassau even had some added drama that led to the ouster of a veteran Republican district attorney.

Because New York is one of those rare states that grows its own minor parties, perhaps it is time to found a few new ballot lines that will restore participation by marketing and better reflecting the diverse moods of voters.
Now, Janison in the spirit of Jonathan Swift, goes on to name several, um, narrow-focus parties.

But he has a point: in New York State there is an effective mechanism for giving a minor party a fair shot at ballot access and matching funds access. What's really odd is, those few parties that have accomplished this not-mean feat have seemingly squandered an opportunity to get an effective message across.

I'm thinking in particular of the Working Families Party, of course. You'd think a party that describes itself as "grassroots, community and labor based" would be a slam-dunk to gather some political heat in a state where labor unions have a very strong hold, especially in the civil service sectors.

Apparently not. They've merely assumed the mantle that the old Liberal Party in New York once claimed: a mirror for the Democratic candidates to appear on TWO party lines (with some exceptions) on the ballot, thus negating the Republican/Conservative duopoly (and make it that much more confusing for voters).

One wonders what it would take to combine organized labor, suburban family voters and young urbanites into a cohesive party that would stick together on social issues like gay marriage and fiscal issues like property tax relief (as well as an equitable distribution of income tax relief for city residents who provide essential services for commuters).

tags technorati :

A Presidency In The Crapper

Bush may delay push for major tax overhaul

By Caren Bohan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House may delay unveiling a broad proposal to overhaul the tax code until 2007 or later, despite earlier discussions of making it a major theme for next year, people close to the White House said.

A panel named by President George W. Bush has recommended sweeping changes to the tax code, including reducing deductions for home mortgages and state and local taxes.

Bush is having the Treasury Department review the recommendations and submit a plan to him.

The White House had initially considered having Treasury prepare a plan by the end of the year that could form the basis for a proposal in Bush's State of the Union address.

But several Republicans with close administration ties said it now seems likely Bush may only speak generally about tax reform in the address and not unveil specifics.

"I don't think there is enough time to churn out a policy," said one Republican, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Time Magazine, in its latest edition, quoted a White House official as expressing doubt that a major proposal to change the tax code could attract Democratic support in a mid-term election year.
This is an administration that came into office claiming that change was in the air, meanwhile espousing small-minded shortsighted goals.

I don't think they ever imagined how hard it was going to be when the idiot with his hand on the wheel was drunk.