Archive for the 'united states' Category

Bush plans coup in U.S.

Posted by mikedaum on July 26th, 2007

The BBC is reporting on a 1933 conspiracy to overthrow the FDR government and align the US with the growing fascist movements in Germany and Italy.  Right out of the pages of Roth’s “Plot Against America”, this coup was put together by a group of right-wing fat cats.  Furthermore, Prescott Bush, the founder of the current Bush dynasty, was a member.

One more time: the Bush dynasty has its roots in a plot to overthrow the US government and align America with the Nazis.

Bush to have colonoscopy — Cheney acting president

Posted by mikedaum on July 20th, 2007

BBC reports that Bush will undergo a colonoscopy tomorrow.

Before the procedure he’ll hand the keys to Cheney.

Colonoscopies have a mortality rate of 1 in 5000.

Remain calm, we’ll get through this.

Cosmic Variance on Libby

Posted by mikedaum on July 4th, 2007

Worth reading is this magnificent post about Bush and Libby on Cosmic Variance. Lovely contrast between Bush’s behaviour here with his earlier refusal to help death row inmates.

Libby fallout

Posted by mikedaum on July 4th, 2007

 

So Bush went ahead and commuted Libby’s sentence, and made a clever speech pointing out that it isn’t a pardon.  Not so impressive given that

  1. Libby is still pursuing his appeal, so could get off scott free
  2. Bush says will still consider pardoning Libby

Frankly the whole thing makes me want to drive to the US and burn some cars.  One gets the feeling that the rule of law down there is on some pretty shaky ground at the moment.

The whole thing was made a bit worse by the fact that Bush did not consult the DOJ on the matter, and in fact acted in a manner contrary to longstanding DOJ policy.  It seems though, that this strategy is a bit on the dangerous side.  In his touching speech, Bush mentioned the two years of probation which would still need to be served by Libby.  Turns out that Libby was not sentenced to probation…but rather “supervised release”…something which can only occur after you’ve served some time.  This inconsistency was noticed by Reggie Walton, the sentencing judge in the case, who filed yesterday asking both sides to appear in court to present arguments on how exactly they feel the law should be interpreted in light of the seemingly contradictory commutation.

In light of the president’s unorthodox behaviour and the concerns of Judge Walton, the House Judiciary Committee has decided to hold hearings to look into the matter.  This was announced by Rep. Conyers, the committee’s chair along with the excellent words:

“In light of yesterday’s announcement by the President that he was commuting the prison sentence for Scooter Libby, it is imperative that Congress look into presidential authority to grant clemency, and how such power may be abused. Taken to its extreme, the use of such authority could completely circumvent the law enforcement process and prevent credible efforts to investigate wrongdoing in the executive branch.”

I love Conyers, but though he is eloquent I fear that words will be the start and the end of this thing.  Why are the Democrats unable to act?  It’s been half a year since they took over the congress, and the abuse goes on and on unchecked.  At what point will they realize that what’s at stake here transcends their pre-2008 posturing and actually take a stand?

Shit in the meat

Posted by mikedaum on July 3rd, 2007

So upset about the Libby I can’t talk about it. So I looked around to find something cheery and found this post on Cosmic Variance. Seems the FDA is considering a proposal to allow irradiated meat to be sold with no label.

The meat industry really wants this because they spend almost all of their efforts trying to keep shit from getting mixed in to the meat they ship. It would be much cheaper for them to just leave the shit in, except that would make lots of people sick (lots more than already do, that is). So they have this plan to “cold pasteurize” their product by shining it with an intense beam of high energy gamma radiation. This kills bad bugs by knocking apart their DNA so they can’t reproduce.

Unfortunately, it also knocks everything else apart too, filling the tasty beef with all sorts of radiolytic byproducts, smashed up molecule fragments, many of which do not occur in nature at all. Of course that’s only speculation, because the actual composition of these byproducts have not been closely studied. What has been studied is the radiation’s effect on the taste of the meat, which was described as “wet dog” or “singed hair”.

Bush is now exempt too!

Posted by mikedaum on June 23rd, 2007

Here’s the new language from the White House:

“The executive order that Bush issued in March 2003 covers all government agencies that are part of the executive branch and, although it doesn’t specifically say so, was not meant to apply to the vice president’s office or the president’s office”, a White House spokesman said.

I really like the part about “although it doesn’t specifically say so…”

read more | digg story

More branch blurriness from Bush/Cheney

Posted by mikedaum on June 22nd, 2007

So the story of Cheney’s curious interpretation that the OVP straddles both the Executive and the Legislative branch recieved wide coverage in the MSM today. Most notable, perhaps was a front page article in today’s NYT. Yay. Recent coverage such as this WaPo article features quotes on the topic taken from a White House press briefing today. Here’s a quote I found particularly interesting (Perino is the WH spokeswoman).

As the “author” of the executive order and “the person responsible for interpreting” it, Bush “did not intend for the vice president to be treated as an agency,” Perino said.

Now that’s interesting isn’t it. Bush is the author of the executive order. True. It’s not a law, so he doesn’t have to be in the Legislative branch to write it. He’s also the executor of the order…appropriate because he’s the head of the Executive branch. And apparently Bush is also the interpreter of the order…here playing the role of the Judicial branch. So for the purposes of this order…Bush is effectively all of the branches. With the sole exception of the special new Cheney branch, that is.

Dick Cheney

Raw Story is reporting on Dick Cheney’s claims that the Office of the Vice President (OVP) is not contained within the Executive Branch. My understanding is that he claims that the VP’s role as president of the senate places the OVP in a middle ground between the Executive and the Legislative…making it essentially an unregulated 4th branch of the U.S. government. This is very scary.

This has been going on for some time now. Fortunately we have a democrat, Henry Waxman, at the head of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and he’s trying to look into these things. His current efforts center on Cheney’s claim of exemption from a 2003 executive order which “establishes government-wide procedures for safeguarding classified national security information”. Specifically, the OVP has refused to hand over sensitive documents to the National Archives, as the order requires.

Also on Waxman’s site is an excellent fact sheet about the issue, detailing 5 instances in which the OVP has used these claims of sweeping powers to conceal information:

  • Exempting the Office of the Vice President from the Executive Order on Classified National Security Information
  • Blocking GAO Oversight
  • Concealing Privately-Funded Travel
  • Withholding Information about Vice Presidential Staff
  • Concealing Information about Visitors to the Vice President’s Residence
  • Allowing Former Vice Presidents to Assert Privilege Over Documents

It’s laudable that Waxman is attempting to bring this to light. It is, however, shamefully late. This has been going on for 6 years. In addition, though I’ve seen blog coverage of these issues before, I’ve never once seen them treated in the Mainstream Media. I’m not really sure why that is…of all of this administration’s activities which have come to light, this one to me comes closest to having the flavor of the ultimate transformation of the U.S. government…and it’s downfall. I mentioned this item to a Romanian friend of mine and he replied “Sounds familiar.” I quizzed him on what he’d seen before and asked him why it was that people don’t seem to care. He simply smiled and said “They’ll care…but by then it’s too late”

Update: Huffington Post now has the story…will the MSM pick it up?

Update #2: Think Progress has it too

Update #3: Yay! Washington Post has picked up the story. Very well written article here.

Update #4: Oops.  Spoke to soon.  The above WaPo story is in a blog…not the print edition

Study says New Orleans still at risk

Posted by mikedaum on June 21st, 2007

NOLA

The Army Corps of Engineers have just released a study on flooding risks in NOLA due to hypothetical hurricanes.  As it is summarized in the New York Times, the study shows that the risk today is basically equivalent to the pre-Katrina risk — though some areas had improved while others had deteriorated.

The article and study make for interesting perusal, but I have to say I’m a bit dubious.  Firstly, though the jury is still out, the concept of a “1 in 100 year storm” &c may be a rapidly moving target due to global warming, making a Katrina-strength storm much more likely in the future than it was in the past.  The science isn’t there for us to know how climate change will effect hurricanes, but I’m afraid that by the time we have a conclusive model it will be far too late.  This is especially relevant as much of the improvement in flood protection seems targeted at the 1-in-100 storms, leaving the 1-in-400 flood risks more or less unchanged.

I’m also skeptical about the accuracy of this elevation-based flood modeling, which more or less assumes that water will be spread over the city in nice even layers.  If we learned anything from Katrina, it was that things fail in unpredictable, uneven ways.

My only hope then from this study is that because the insurers will certainly pay attention to it, it has the potential to affect rebuilding patterns.  To date it seems that so many balls have been dropped, and so many opportunities have been missed, that it’s hard to hope that anything sensible will emerge.  Nonetheless, money talks, and if insurers stop funding development in the flood zones there will be some pressure to do the right thing, which is to build sustainable communities on the natural high ground.

General Science Knowledge in Canada vs. U.S.

Posted by mikedaum on June 19th, 2007

After reading my posts on the startlingly low occurrence of heliocentrism in the U.S., several folks have asked me what the corresponding numbers are in Canada.  I’ve done a bit of searching, and have so far unable to find a Canadian data set which directly addresses this question.  My sense though, was that the spirit of the question does not demand a direct answer as such, but is rather intended to knock this admittedly smug Canada-dweller off his high horse (otherwise, they could have asked me about Italy, or the Sudan).

Accordingly, I searched for studies which featured direct comparisons of different types of literacy between countries.  The best I’ve found so far is the “Findings from the Condition of Education 2006: U.S. Student and Adult Performance on International Assessments of Educational Achievement“, a roundup prepared by the U.S. Department of Education which summarizes results from a great number of international literacy comparisons.  Anyone who’s interested in this topic should have a look at the document…it’s a great read.

The two studies quoted are the TIMSS and PISA.  TIMSS is a great series of studies which were run in 1995, 1999 and 2003 which looked at cross-country scientific knowledge.  Unfortunately, Canada did not participate in the 2003 run, so I won’t include the data here.  TIMSS 2007 is currently underway, so we’ll have to wait until December 2008 to see what the results are.  TIMSS 1999 featured a comparison of math and science literacy in 8th graders in which Canada scored 531 — “significantly higher” than the U.S. score of 515.

Table 9 in the FCE document shows the results of the science literacy data gathered as part of PISA 2003.  Here Canada scores 519 — “measurably higher” than the U.S. score of 491.  This data quantifies the scientific knowledge of 15 year olds.

The FCE’s Table 10 shows a very interesting summary of the results.  Looking at Math and Science, it seems that the U.S. remains competitive through the 8th grade, and more or less collapses thereafter.

So the nutshell answer seems to be yes, Canadians know more about science than people in the U.S.  We also have Universal health care and don’t start wars.