October 31, 2006

Candy, anyone?

Happy Hallowe'en

And it's a damned good thing it doesn't conflict with "Lost".

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There oughtta be a law

My city councilman's name is Okino; my state house representative's name is Oshiro.

It drives me crazy keeping the two separate in my head.

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October 30, 2006

Insurrection Act revision

Does anyone else read this as implying that Bush (or any future President) could define "public disorder" any way he or she wanted and commandeer the National Guard preparatory to a declaration of martial law?

Public Law 109-364, or the "John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007" (H.R.5122) (2), which was signed by the commander in chief on October 17th, 2006, in a private Oval Office ceremony, allows the President to declare a "public emergency" and station troops anywhere in America and take control of state-based National Guard units without the consent of the governor or local authorities, in order to "suppress public disorder."

[snip]

Despite the unprecedented and shocking nature of this act, there has been no outcry in the American media, and little reaction from our elected officials in Congress. On September 19th, a lone Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) noted that 2007's Defense Authorization Act contained a "widely opposed provision to allow the President more control over the National Guard [adopting] changes to the Insurrection Act, which will make it easier for this or any future President to use the military to restore domestic order WITHOUT the consent of the nation's governors."

Senator Leahy went on to stress that, "we certainly do not need to make it easier for Presidents to declare martial law. Invoking the Insurrection Act and using the military for law enforcement activities goes against some of the central tenets of our democracy. One can easily envision governors and mayors in charge of an emergency having to constantly look over their shoulders while someone who has never visited their communities gives the orders."

Read the whole thing.

Seen at Suburban Guerilla, among others.

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October 29, 2006

Archaeo-mysteries

If you're looking for a good series of mystery novels with excellent characterization, you could do a lot worse than Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody books. A family of archaeologists excavating in Egypt at the end of the 19th century through the early 1920s so far (eighteen books) has adventures with tomb robbers, Great War espionage, lost oases, and more.

As I once was enthralled with anthropology and archaeology, these stories have plenty of verisimilitude for my taste, along with characters I really like. In eighteen books there's a lot of room for fleshing out the people, and Peters does it well. The first one was published in 1975; the latest in 2006.

One caution, though: read them in order. It's no fun learning that something went terribly wrong in the eleventh book when you're reading the thirteenth and you discover it was resolved in book twelve.

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October 28, 2006

Saturday Night Music

Here's The Band with The Staple Singers singing "The Weight" from Scorsese's "The Last Waltz."

For an encore, here they are doing "Cripple Creek" on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1969.

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This is objectivity?

Here's Billmon on old media and the way it's covering the midterm campaign, particularly the ads:

The way the media is currently handling the GOP's Swiftboat extravaganza is a textbook example of how the conventions of journalistic "objectivity" have become the enemies of truth, not its allies. It shows why so many on the left are so angry even with "responsible," non-Foxified news organizations: because they insist on describing a moral equivalence that factually doesn't exist -- and which many, if not most, reporters know does not exist.

[snip]

. . .most journalists, most of the time, continue to flee from the truth: that the GOP machine will use every totalitarian propaganda trick in the book, if need be, to keep all three branches of the federal government in its grip. Or, at a minimum, that the men at the top -- Rove, Mehlman and, of course, Junior -- show no signs of having any limits on their willingness to use such techniques.

[snip]

But when Mark Halperin [of ABC News] promises Bill O'Reilly he will feel his pain, or the CBS Evening News gives every conservative nut job in America a spot on "Free Speech," or NBC refuses to accept an ad for the Dixie Chicks documentary because it [the ad] disrepects Shrub, or Time puts Ann Coulter on the cover, I think they're making economic statements as much as journalistic ones.

You may or may not know that Billmon is a former journalist himself. (He's got links for those statements in that last paragraph which support his points.) As such, he knows how the sausage is made. This essay is disturbing, distressing, and hopefully way out of whack. If he's right, the people of this country will soon no longer be able to depend on a free press to discover the wrongs our government has done/is doing in our name.

Read the whole thing.

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October 27, 2006

Sloppy Series

Well, that wasn't very exciting. Congratulations to the Cardinals, who played (and pitched) better than the Tigers. Unfortunately, that's not saying much. There were five errors by Tiger pitchers in five games, and several of them had major consequences, allowing several runs to score. This wasn't riveting baseball at all at all.

When do pitchers and catchers report?

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An odd distinction

Whatever happened to the old media axiom that part of its mission was "Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable?"

NBC has refused to air an advertisement for the new documentary about the Dixie Chicks' travails after Natalie Maines' remark about her shame that President Bush was from Texas.

According to the Weinstein Co., NBC's commercial clearance department said in writing that it "cannot accept these spots as they are disparaging to President Bush."

Um, so? Has your network refused ads disparaging other political candidates (see the Corker ads implying interracial hanky-panky by Harold Ford in Tennessee and many others)?

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October 26, 2006

It's over

Eight days, three hours, $620K. After innumerable pledge breaks (about every twenty minutes for reminders, and once an hour ten minutes at a time), Hawai'i Public Radio exceeded its goal with one full day plus a little to spare. I think this is the fifth or sixth consecutive time they've come in early. I still can't imagine why only one in ten listeners actually ponies up for the service.

Thanks be.

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Lost, Season 3, Episode 4

Jack may or may not have been captured to operate on somebody's spine; Sawyer may have a daughter and can be conned (I want credit for saying during the show that there's no way an incision that small would have allowed the implantation of a pacemaker), and Kate can squeeze out of the top of her cage.

And that advanced the story just how?

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October 25, 2006

Potential headline?

If the Democrats do indeed take over the House (and possibly the Senate), and if exit polls show that the Foley scandal infuriated people enough to make them vote for the Dems, will any newspapers be able to resist the 24-point headline "EXFOLIATED?"

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Wish books

If you're like us, you get a million zillion catalogs in the mail, particularly if you've ordered from one or two in the past. Here's one I like.

One of the premiums offered during the HPR Pledge Drive is a portable radio which can be hand-cranked in the event of a power outage; it also has a built-in cellphone charger. It's made by Grundig, which is a famous name among radio manufacturers.

I found that in a catalog from Herrington; far be it from me to suggest you don't have enough junk mail, but this catalog is full of fun things to browse through when it gets into your mailbox. It sells foam inserts for your cupholder which will wrap around your cellphone, Aloha shirts with your university logo and scenes from the campus emblazoned on them, bags, shoes, Lionel trains (!), watches, tools...it's a larger version of The Sharper Image, and far less pricey.

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October 24, 2006

Horror

Meanwhile, in Iraq:

In the next few images he is encased in plastic: His face is frozen in a ghoulish grimace. Blackened lesions blemish his neck.

"Drill holes," says Col. Khaled Rasheed, an Iraqi commander who is showing me the set of photographs.

He preserves the snapshots in a drawer, the image of the young man brimming with expectations always on top. There is no name, no identification, just a series of photos that documents the transformation of some mother's son into a slab of meat on a bloody table in a morgue.

[snip]

A year ago, car bombs, ambushes, daily gun battles and chronic lack of electricity and gasoline were sapping the city. But not this: the wanton execution of individuals because of sect — a phenomenon so commonplace it has earned a military shorthand: EJK, for extrajudicial killing.

Every day the corpses pile up in the capital like discarded furniture — at curbside, in lots, in waterways and sewer lines; every day the executioners return. A city in which it was long taboo to ask, "Are you Sunni or Shiite?" has abruptly become defined by these very characteristics.

Once-harmonious neighborhoods with mixed populations have become communal killing grounds. Residents of one sect or the other must clear out or face the whim of fanatics with power drills.

Gunmen showed up one day on an avenue where fishmongers have long hawked barbecued fillets. They mowed the vendors down. Maybe it was because of the merchants' beliefs — the fish salesmen were Shiites in a mostly Sunni district, Dawoodi. Maybe it was revenge. No one knows with certainty. No one asks. All that remains are the remnants of charcoal fires.

This disaster brought to you by George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and a Republican-controlled Congress.

I'd say it's time for a change, wouldn't you?

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October 23, 2006

Bipartisanship

If the Democrats win in two weeks, there will be lots of advice in the Op/Ed pages telling them they should forego anything smacking of revenge, reach across the aisle, work with Republicans, and generally be meek and kind.

In the first place, when did the Republicans do that over the past six years, and where was that advice to them? In the second place, as Lance so clearly states, none of the moderate Republicans in the House are likely to be left afloat; the 200 or so Republicans who will be re-elected are the farthest of the far right. That's the way primary elections work these days.

Nope, I like the Dixie Chicks' reply:

Susie Madrak has Krugman's take on that advice.

Another source for Krugman's full column here.

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October 22, 2006

Ways to Win

A friend of mine just called me to say he had a little money he wanted to donate to the Democrats, but he wanted info as to how he could get the most bang for his buck. He also mentioned that he has a list of fellow alumni from an organization he used to work for (no names, but it was headed by Sargent Shriver when it began in the Kennedy Administration) and he wanted to pass the info along. Here's what I came up with:

Here's the Congressional Committee site.
Take note of 3-for-1 matching donation from House Leadership:

With only days remaining, it is critical that each one of us do what we can to ensure victory. Your contribution will be matched 3-to-1 by Democratic House Leadership for every dollar contributed online, effectively giving you four times the impact. The DCCC needs your help to ensure not one of our candidates loses for a lack of resources.

Here's the Senate Committee site.
Another 3-for-1 deal:
For every dollar contributed by October 31 as a result of this request, a group of Senate Democrats will raise an additional two dollars - effectively tripling your gift.

For individual races within districts, Act Blue is another way:
(here's the search tool for race/state)

The DCCC has a list of "emerging races" that weren't originally thought to be competitive but now seem to be.

Washington Post has a full list of races.

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Ca) has a good PAC (PAC for Change) which works for candidates selected by people on her mailing list.

Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) also has one. He's got lists of people (drop-down menu: Featured Patriots) selected by the grassroots that's he's funding through the PAC. In addition, he's working to get honest Secretaries of State (who usually run elections -- think Katherine Harris and Ken Blackwell) elected.

If you feel similarly motivated, steal from this list. By all means add more in the comments.

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October 21, 2006

Radio days

Query: Does anyone ever listen to either the President's radio addresses on Saturday or the opposition party's responses? I can't ever remember hearing one on any radio station in the state.

In other radio news, we're in Day Four of a projected ten-day pledge drive for Hawai'i Public Radio. I renewed my membership earlier this year; have you renewed yours?

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October 20, 2006

Semper Fi

If you plan to see "Flags of our Fathers," let me point you to an earlier movie about one of the protagonists: "The Outsider", starring Tony Curtis as the Indian Ira Hayes. Made in 1961, I have no idea how well it played nationwide, but I saw it in Bagdad, Arizona at the drive-in theater my aunt and uncle owned there. It was quite a film. It focused on Hayes's descent into alcoholism after the war. His exploitation (with the other members of the flag-raising team at Iwo Jima) by the propaganda machine which sent them out on that war bond tour depicted in the new movie contributed pretty heavily to his disillusionment.

I should note that I've read the book on which "Flags" is based, and it's excellent. Since Eastwood directed the new film, I have little doubt that it will be equally good. Kenneth Turan of the LA Times thinks so.

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And so it begins

There are 196 habeas cases in front of the US District Court right now; Wednesday the Dept. of Justice notified the court that, subsequent to Bush's signing of the Military Commissions bill, that court no longer has jurisdiction over those cases.

Immediately after Bush signed the act into law Tuesday, the Justice Department sent a letter to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit asserting the new authorities and informing the court that it no longer had jurisdiction over a combined habeas case that had been under consideration since 2004. The U.S. District Court cases, which had been stayed pending the appeals court decision, were similarly invalid, the administration informed that court on Wednesday.

[snip]

The administration's persistence on the issue "demonstrates how difficult it is for the courts to enforce [the clause] in the face of a resolute executive branch that is bound and determined to resist it," said Joseph Margulies, a Northwestern University law professor involved in the detainee cases.

I hope to God the current members of SCOTUS still have enough integrity to say that this new law is unconstitutional.

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October 19, 2006

That most magical phrase

If you're a sports fan, Game Seven is highly evocative. It was Game Seven when Bill Mazeroski hit his home run to win the 1960 World Series for the Pirates over the Yankees. It was Game Seven when the Yankees' Aaron Boone hit a game-winning home run to beat the Red Sox in the 2003 ALCS. It was Game Seven when the Diamondbacks' Luis Gonzalez blooped a single into centerfield off the Yankees' Mariano Rivera to win the 2001 World Series. It was Game Seven when Sandy Koufax of the Dodgers threw a three-hitter to beat the Twins in 1965. It was Game Seven in 1968 when Mickey Lolich of the Tigers outdueled Bob Gibson of the Cardinals. In 1991 it was Game Seven and the Twins' turn to be on the winning side as Jack Morris threw a 10-inning shutout and Gene Larkin hit a little Texas League single in the bottom of the 10th to beat the Braves.

Tonight's Game Seven.

Update: Well, that was pretty dramatic.

I'm sure I speak for all Mets fans when I say "how the hell do you take a called third strike with two outs, the bases loaded, and the game on the line in the bottom of the 9th?"

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Lost, Season 3, Episode 3

So Locke was in a pot-growing camp at some point, and he could still walk then. That's when he became familiar with sweat lodges, I suppose. (I'd always thought those were principally a part of Plains Indian culture, but I was wrong.)

How did Desmond pre-hear Locke's speech? For that matter, how did Locke recover his ability to speak? I suppose it's possible for a voice box to be temporarily damaged by an explosion, but I've never heard of it happening (I'm no otolaryngologist, though). And when did Sayid kill a polar bear?

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October 18, 2006

billboard


billboard
Originally uploaded by Linkmeister.
In keeping with the Garrison Keillor column below, two groups have collaborated to put up this billboard in Connecticut. A good simple declarative statement makes for a powerful suggestion, doesn't it?

Snagged from Shakespeare's Sister.

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October 17, 2006

Rights, schmights

Garrison Keillor on the torture bill Bush signed today:

I would not send my college kid off for a semester abroad if I were you. This week, we have suspended human rights in America, and what goes around comes around. Ixnay habeas corpus.

The U.S. Senate, in all its splendor and majesty, has decided that an "enemy combatant" is any non-citizen whom the president says is an enemy combatant, including your Korean greengrocer or your Swedish grandmother or your Czech au pair, and can be arrested and held for as long as authorities wish without any right of appeal to a court of law to examine the matter.

[snip]

The Senate also decided it's up to the president to decide whether it's OK to make these enemies stand naked in cold rooms for a couple days in blinding light and be beaten by interrogators. This is now purely a bureaucratic matter: The plenipotentiary stamps the file "enemy combatants" and throws the poor schnooks into prison and at his leisure he tries them by any sort of kangaroo court he wishes to assemble and they have no right to see the evidence against them, and there is no appeal.

[snip]

None of the men and women who voted for this bill has any right to speak in public about the rule of law anymore, or to take a high moral view of the Third Reich, or to wax poetic about the American Idea. Mark their names. Any institution of higher learning that grants honorary degrees to these people forfeits its honor. Alexander, Allard, Allen, Bennett, Bond, Brownback, Bunning, Burns, Burr, Carper, Chambliss, Coburn, Cochran, Coleman, Collins, Cornyn, Craig, Crapo, DeMint, DeWine, Dole, Domenici, Ensign, Enzi, Frist, Graham, Grassley, Gregg, Hagel, Hatch, Hutchison, Inhofe, Isakson, Johnson, Kyl, Landrieu, Lautenberg, Lieberman, Lott, Lugar, Martinez, McCain, McConnell, Menendez, Murkowski, Nelson of Florida, Nelson of Nebraska, Pryor, Roberts, Rockefeller, Salazar, Santorum, Sessions, Shelby, Smith, Specter, Stabenow, Stevens, Sununu, Talent, Thomas, Thune, Vitter, Voinovich, Warner.

To paraphrase Sir Walter Scott: Mark their names and mark them well. For them, no minstrel raptures swell. High though their titles, proud their name, boundless their wealth as wish can claim, these wretched figures shall go down to the vile dust from whence they sprung, unwept, unhonored and unsung.

That column was written on the occasion of the bill's approval by the Senate a couple of weeks ago, but it's lost none of its clarity in the two weeks since.

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More earthquake info

Hawai'i got off pretty lightly in Sunday's earthquake, all things considered. Apparently that's in part because the quake was so deep: 28km (just under 17 miles). There are frequent earthquakes on the Big Island, but most are volcano-related; this one was the kind the rest of the world recognizes: one caused by plate movement. Here's a brief history of earthquakes in the State.

Preliminary estimates have property damage at $40 million, but that's expected to rise. Here's a story about building damages.

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October 16, 2006

Earthquake damage

One of the interesting things we all learned yesterday was the value of old-style line-powered telephones. I have four or five of them around the house, mostly in rooms which aren't widely used. Those all worked just fine (the phone system was up throughout Oahu); it was the newer cordless varieties which were useless, since they require electricity.

Here are some photos of some of the damage from yesterday morning's earthquakes.

Here are more photos from West Hawaii Today, a Big Island newspaper. Many are reader-submitted.

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October 15, 2006

Yowzer!

As you may have learned, there was a 6.6 magnitude earthquake off the northwestern coast of the Big Island today. That's about 160 miles southeast of Honolulu. There've been no injuries or serious damage reported on Oahu, but there will undoubtedly be a few reports of structural damage both on this island and on Maui as well as Hawai'i. The USGS puts it at 10 miles or so offshore from Waikoloa, a resort town on the west coast of the Big Island. There have apparently been a slew of aftershocks (32, says the USGS site), but none large enough to notice over here.

It shook me out of bed at 7:07am this morning. I woke up to see the bedside lamp tottering (it didn't fall), realized what was going on, and reached for some clothes. By the time I'd gotten my shorts and shirt on it was over. I went out to the kitchen to see whether Mom had felt it (yep) and to turn on the coffee maker. About 4 minutes later the power went out island-wide, and it stayed out until 1:20pm. Fortunately, the coffee machine had managed to make about 4 cups before the power quit, so we had that to alleviate the trauma.

With no power, there was a scramble to find out how big the quake was, and that became a test of what radio station was well-enough prepared. Turns out there was only one that managed to get on the air and stay there: KSSK/K59. They broke into a taped program at about 7:30 with the one in-studio person they had on duty; shortly thereafter their weekday morning drive-time team showed up (Perry and Price, for those of you familiar with Honolulu radio). The station became the clearinghouse for all news from all points of the state; they had incoming telephone calls from the Governor (who was in a hotel in Waikoloa; the television in her room fell off the armoire it was on), State Civil Defense, the local utility companies, and just plain folks reporting from towns and locations on the roads.

I've lived here 28 years; I've gotten accustomed to volcanic and seismic activity over on the Big Island, but this is the first time I've ever felt a quake while on Oahu. I used to live in L.A., so I know what they're like, but it was a heck of a shock to be awakened by one.

All's well in this house; we were going to start worrying about the fridge and freezer contents, but no longer. Thanks for all the e-mails and comments.

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October 14, 2006

Priorities

Our papers know their readers: Honolulu Advertiser front page this morning. Honolulu Star-Bulletin front page headline this morning.

You might all say "huh?" Well, the UH women's volleyball program is probably the only money-making one in the country. It often outdraws men's basketball.

More than that, about half the team is consistently home-grown; local girls dream of playing for Coach Dave Shoji (1,000 wins and counting). The program has won three NCAA championships and one AIAW (pre-NCAA) championship. New Mexico State's win last night over the Wahine broke an eight-year conference winning streak.

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October 13, 2006

Um, huh?

How do you call yourself a sports radio station but decide to carry the regular sports talk show rather than Game 3 of the ALCS (note the 10:30am time block)? Don't tell me it's not available; you're an ESPN affiliate, for cryin' out loud.

Dumb move, guys.

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"The Sandbox"

If you read "Doonesbury" you may have heard of Garry Trudeau's new project: a blog written by military personnel. Here's its goal:

Welcome to The Sandbox, our command-wide milblog, featuring comments, anecdotes, and observations from service members currently deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. This is GWOT-lit's forward position, offering those in-country a chance to share their experiences and reflections with the rest of us. The Sandbox's focus is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that), but on the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. The Sandbox is a clean, lightly-edited debriefing environment where all correspondence is read, and as much as possible is posted. And contributors may rest assured that all content, no matter how robust, is currently secured by the First Amendment.

What I've read so far is alternatively amusing and touching, mundane and startling. It occurs to me that if there'd been an Internet and blogging software when I was in the Navy in Japan I'd have been a lot less bored than I was.

Here's the site.

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October 12, 2006

That's good to know

In an otherwise useful article about the flight corridor Cory Lidle's plane was in yesterday is this masterpiece of understatement:

But it is rare for a small plane to crash into a building.

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Lost, Season 3, Episode 2

"The Glass Ballerina." Hmm. Since everything's a metaphor, I wonder what that one means.

Henry/Ben has lived on the island all his life? Why?

Did Sun's lover jump or was he pushed? Is there a doctor among The Others who can treat a gunshot wound?

I sympathize with Jack's disbelief; who'd have thought the Red Sox would ever win the World Series? What sort of cooperation will be required for him to go home?

Always more questions...

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October 11, 2006

655K Iraqi dead since invasion

A new study indicates there have been 655,000 deaths in Iraq since the US/coalition invasion in 2003.

The surveyors said they found a steady increase in mortality since the invasion, with a steeper rise in the last year that appears to reflect a worsening of violence as reported by the U.S. military, the news media and civilian groups. In the year ending in June, the team calculated Iraq's mortality rate to be roughly four times what it was the year before the war.

Of the total 655,000 estimated "excess deaths," 601,000 resulted from violence and the rest from disease and other causes, according to the study. This is about 500 unexpected violent deaths per day throughout the country.

The survey was done by Iraqi physicians and overseen by epidemiologists at Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health. The findings are being published online today by the British medical journal the Lancet.

The same group in 2004 published an estimate of roughly 100,000 deaths in the first 18 months after the invasion. That figure was much higher than expected, and was controversial. The new study estimates that about 500,000 more Iraqis, both civilian and military, have died since then -- a finding likely to be equally controversial.

Both this and the earlier study are the only ones to estimate mortality in Iraq using scientific methods. The technique, called "cluster sampling," is used to estimate mortality in famines and after natural disasters.

I don't really doubt the numbers. Consider that there were some 120 bodies found in Baghdad alone over the past two days.

Update Here's a good explanation of the methodology from a public health scientist who's familiar with the techniques.

This is horrific. Even if it's wrong by a factor of two, it would be 325,000+ Iraqi dead as a result of this ill-conceived crusade (and I don't use that word frivolously) on the part of the neocon brigade in Washington.

If there's any justice, when George W. Bush gets to the gates of heaven, as he's told us repeatedly he expects to do, St. Peter or whoever's the guard there is going to politely turn him around and deny him entrance.

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October 10, 2006

Fair or unfair?

The NYT is running a four-part series about religious institutions and the kind of exemptions federal, state and local governments give to them, often for reasons some might think specious.

For example, why should Disney World be subject to all the usual business regulations and taxes, while a Biblical theme park right down the road be free of those burdens? Why should a nun-in-training be dismissed from her convent with the loss of her health insurance after she was diagnosed with breast cancer and have no recourse? Why should property taxes be waived for a church which owns a nursing home, when across the street there's a non-religious home which is required to pay them?

The series raises interesting questions of that nature. Taxpayers in some communities are saying that their burden is being increased because the churches aren't required to carry their fair share, even though the churches use public facilities like roads, libraries, water, etcetera.

It's definitely worth the read.
Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four

I'll update with a link to Part Four tomorrow. Done

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October 09, 2006

Bush failure #whatever

Glenn Kessler of the WaPo puts the North Korean nuclear test (if that's what it was) squarely on the backs of the Bush Administration.

North Korea's apparent nuclear test last night may well be regarded as a failure of the Bush administration's nuclear nonproliferation policy.

Since George W. Bush became president, North Korea has restarted its nuclear reactor and increased its stock of weapons-grade plutonium, so it may now have enough for 10 or 11 weapons, compared with one or two when Bush took office.

[snip]

When Bush became president in 2000, Pyongyang's reactor was frozen under a 1994 agreement with the United States.

That deal was called The Agreed Framework.

Many top U.S. officials were determined to kill the Agreed Framework, and when U.S. intelligence discovered evidence that North Korea had a clandestine program to enrich uranium, they had their chance.

A U.S. delegation confronted Pyongyang about the secret program -- and U.S. officials said North Korean officials appeared to confirm it. (Pyongyang later denied that.) The United States pressed to cut off immediately deliveries of heavy fuel oil promised under the Agreed Framework. North Korea, in response, evicted international inspectors and restarted its nuclear reactor.

Pyongyang moved quickly to reprocess 8,000 spent fuel rods -- previously in a cooling pond under 24-hour international surveillance -- in order to obtain the plutonium needed for nuclear weapons.

One of the troubles with this Administration is that, while many of them think they're following Teddy Roosevelt's dictum "Speak softly but carry a big stick," they continually ignore the first half of the phrase in favor of the second.

If it weren't so damaging, it would be funny. All these self-proclaimed Christians continually ignore the Golden Rule as laid down in the Gospel of Matthew: "Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them."

Yup. I'm sure the Bush Administration would greatly enjoy being lectured by the international community, being threatened with sanctions and regime change, and generally being treated like a small recalcitrant child.

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North Korea nuke test

The LA Times reports that North Korea claims it tested a nuclear weapon overnight.

The South Korean news agency Yonhap, citing defense officials, said the test occurred at 10:36 a.m. in Hwaderi, near the northeastern city of Kilju. The U.S. Geological Survey reported on its website that it had detected a 4.2-magnitude seismic event on the peninsula at 10:37.
This is a real mess, and it's directly attributable to the Bush Administration's refusal to continue dealing with the North Koreans in the way the previous Administration had. The Bushies like to bluster and threaten; they don't (or didn't, for their first five-plus years) do diplomacy.

I'm sure there will be tons of analysis tomorrow from smarter people than I, but if North Korea is in fact now a member of the nuclear club, the whole balance of power in Asia just shifted.

Well done, Mr. Bush.

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October 08, 2006

Rats

Thanks for the sympathy, Lance, but what I really want for the Dodgers is middle relief.

I'm now left with deciding who to root for in the National League. The Mets, who beat my guys and by winning it all would validate my belief that the Dodgers were pretty good this year, or the winner of the Padres-Cardinals series?

Hmm. These Mets aren't anywhere close to being as likable as the 1969 version of the team, or even as likable as the 1973 team. The Padres? Yuk. They beat the Dodgers 13 out of 18 games this year, so they too would seem to validate my opinion of the Dodgers (see paragraph 2). But they've always been the second or third banana in Southern California teams -- nearly an afterthought when talking about the region's pro sports franchises; I'm not sure I can go that direction. The Cardinals? Maybe back when they had Ozzie Smith, Willie McGee, Tommy Herr and Ken Oberkfell, or further back when they had Bob Gibson, Curt Flood, Julian Javier and Dal Maxvill, but now? I'm not fond of Tony LaRussa, and while I like Albert Pujols, is that enough to sway me?

In the American League it's easy. Although I was born in an Oakland suburb, the As don't know that. I've never been to Detroit, but I remember those Sixties teams with Al Kaline, Norm Cash, Willie Horton and Dick McAuliffe. Besides, they beat the Yankees, the most obnoxious franchise in baseball history.

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October 07, 2006

Playoffs update

The Padres won today, staving off elimination at least until tomorrow. The Tigers are leading the Yankees 2 games to 1 and are leading in today's game 7-0 in the 6th. The Dodgers are down 2 games to 0 and must win later today to force a game 4 with the Mets.

All that being said, go look at this Discworld cake. Now that's geeky.

Posted by Linkmeister at 01:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 06, 2006

Dear CNN

Adhering to the objectivity ideal does not mean mindlessly repeating falsehoods issued from political figures.

On the October 5 editions of The Situation Room and CNN Newsroom, CNN continued to report uncritically the assertion that Democratic operatives knew "all along" of Rep. Mark Foley's (R-FL) alleged communications with former congressional pages and are "behind the spreading scandal," ignoring a report in The Hill newspaper that a House Republican aide provided Foley's alleged emails to the media and a statement by ABC News investigative reporter Brian Ross that the sources for his initial Foley report -- to the extent they had partisan affiliations -- were Republicans.

From The Hill:

The source who in July gave news media Rep. Mark Foley’s (R-Fla.) suspect e-mails to a former House page says the documents came to him from a House GOP aide.

That aide has been a registered Republican since becoming eligible to vote, said the source, who showed The Hill public records supporting his claim.

The same source, who acted as an intermediary between the aide-turned-whistleblower and several news outlets, says the person who shared the documents is no longer employed in the House.

But the whistleblower was a paid GOP staffer when the documents were first given to the media.

You know, it's really not that hard to pick up a telephone and call the guy who reported the story (Ross) and ask him if there's any truth to Hastert's and the Noise Machine's claims that Democrats were behind it. I'm sure Time-Warner's budget includes a line item for long distance call expenses.

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October 05, 2006

Lost, Season 3, Episode 1

Um, suburbia on the island? A (sputter) book club? Underwater holding cells? Cages?

Paging Dr. Moreau.

Forgot to say: Apparently there was some foreknowledge of the plane crash, since Henry/Ben immediately started issuing orders to the Others setting pre-existing plans in motion.

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October 04, 2006

When it's my ox being gored...

From a list it calls "Wednesday realities of the Mark Foley story," ABC's The Note has this as #10:

No matter what the facts, the die-hard members of the conservative Freak Show apparatus will continue to raise questions about the timing of all this and about the liberal Old Media's role in publicizing the Foley scandal, and try to rally the base by saying, "don't let ABC News and George Soros decide this election."

Interesting. The Right Wing Noise machine rarely gets any recognition for what it is from ABC or any of the other networks and papers; I can only conclude that this time they got stung by some of the slurs/accusations aimed their way. I admit it's kind of nice to see them call it what it is (Freak Show indeed) for a change.

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:03 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

October 03, 2006

Opting out

I'm declaring myself on the political sidelines today. There are three different baseball games on the tube, and because of time zones, even the last one will conclude before I have to cook dinner. Thus my time will be taken up with things of great import.

That's despite the fact that my team doesn't even start playing till tomorrow.

Update: It must be preordained that this is baseball day: I just got an e-mail from a former Islanders announcer with more info I can add to my Hawai'i Islanders website.

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October 02, 2006

Don't wanna talk about it

Josh Marshall makes an interesting point regarding "Foleygate":

The simple fact is that Foley's downfall has pretty nearly decapitated the leadership of the House GOP with just five weeks to go before election day. And that's devastating.

What do I mean by decapitated? Let's assume, for the sake of discussion, that nothing else really comes out about how the House leadership handled this. No more shoes drop. Not a safe assumption from what seems to be in the reporting pipeline. But let's assume it.

Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-NY) is in a tight race for reelection and he's chairman of the NRCC, the Republican House campaign committee. He's in charge of the effort to keep the majority.

What's the number one thing on his mind right now? I doubt it's the NRCC or even his race for reelection. I think Reynolds is, to put it mildly, distracted right now.

How about Denny Hastert and John Boehner? I don't see them going on shows or making any public appearances for a while. They'll get asked awkward and possibly unanswerable questions about Foleygate.

I think that last paragraph in particular is an obvious but nonetheless astute observation. Any House Republican, but particularly a member of the leadership, is going to be really hampered in trying to tout the Congress's "accomplishments" in the term recently ended, at least on television. Very few of the talking heads on cable are going to let the Foley sex scandal be swept under the rug by some politician who may in fact have known months ago about Foley's transgressions with House pages and did nothing about it. Sex sells, and the cable nets know it and need it. Fox's ratings fell 28% this year from last, the largest drop among the three main cable networks (MSNBC was down 12% and CNN down 21%). They all need a ratings bump, and scandal does that better than anything else.

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October 01, 2006

Woodward's "60 Minutes" appearance

I watched Bob Woodward on "60 Minutes" tonight (video and transcript here). The only startling revelation I saw was a chart (classified "SECRET") showing the number of attacks on American forces increasing over the past three years:

Reporter: Woodward says that's the most important measure of violence in iraq, and he unearthed this graph– classified secret– that shows those attacks have increased dramatically over the last three years.

Woodward: Getting to the point now where there are 800, 900 attacks a week. That's more than 100 a day. Four attacks an hour, attacking our forces.

One can assume that all the Bush supporters will froth at the mouth, saying "anyone can create a chart with the word "SECRET" on it," which is true enough. However, I think Woodward is smarting from the criticism he's gotten over the past several months about his role in the Plame leak case, and also from the criticism his first two books about the Bush Administration ("Plan of Attack" and "Bush at War") received. Those two books were derided as very sympathetic to Bush, Cheney, and Woodward's other sources within the Administration, as though Woodward had suspended his journalistic skepticism.

I think the chart's real, and it serves as one more example of the lies the Administration continues to peddle (everything's fine, they've got an elected government now, the Iraqi forces are standing up, and blah blah blah).

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