Friday, April 29, 2011

Year of the Tiger: Amur Tigers Will Go to Kazakhstan

Tigers from Russia's far east will be relocated to Central Asia under a plan to reintroduce them to a part of Kazakhstan where they went extinct in the early seventies. Studies have shown that Amur tigers are genetically identical to those of the Caspian region, making the relocation biologically neutral. Kazakhstan's President Karim Masimov made his interest in a reintroduction known to the WWF now that poaching and habitat loss are being addressed by his government. The Central Asia or Turin tiger is a cultural icon of Kazakhstan. The area targeted for relocation is around Lake Balkhash near the delta of the Ill River.

'Toontime: Nothing Grabs Them Like a Fairy Tale

[credit: Patrick Chappatte, International Herald Tribune]
The British royals are past masters at PR; they have to be since they rule by sufferance only and their family relations are somewhat dysfunctional. It really is unfortunate the British public is so enthralled of royal extravaganzas because they cost the ordinary bloke a fortune. The security provisions for the wedding alone could cost the taxpayer as much as $33 million. All of the elitist hoopla comes a time when the Tories are imposing £81 billion in spending cuts on the country.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Rhino Poaching Out of Control

The rhino poaching in South Africa's Kruger National Park has gotten so intense the national parks service has called on the army to help stop illegal ivory hunters.  Over 300 rhinos were killed in South Africa last year.  The death toll is the highest ever and three times the 2009 figure.  Kruger lost 146 rhinos in 2010.  The South African Defense Force is deployed along the Park's Zimbabwe and Mozambique border.  The national defense minister said South Africa has "declared war with poachers in all of our parks".

A Real Bombshell from Cairo

While the 24/7 propaganda and distraction organs of the US corporate media babble about the President's belatedly produced birth certificate, the new and improved Egyptian government brokered a peace deal in secret between Hamas and Fatah that may lead to elections in what will one day be the state of Palestine. The development leaves the US on the outside looking in and its client state Israel wrong footed in the seemingly endless negotiation of a comprehensive settlement of the decades old Arab-Israeli conflict. The two Arab political parties fought a bloody battle for control of the Ghaza ghetto four years ago, but the agreement, if successful, would allow the Palestinians to present a united front in negotiations with the Jewish state. Israel's hardline prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is reportedly angered by the potential agreement since the Israeli and US governments consider Hamas to be a terrorist organization. He previously was able to play the Arab factions off each other and security obsessed western governments. Israel President Simon Perez judged the accord between the two parties "an obstacle to eventual peace with Israel" and a "grave error that will prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state." But the departure of Egypt's Mubarak, who towed the US-Israeli line on Hamas, allowed the Egyptian government to play a more constructive, neutral role of mediation. The major unrest in Syria also affected the negotiations since Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal lives there under the protection of Syrian President Assad. The deal could collapse over details of power sharing, however. Hamas has ruled Gaza since 2007, while Fatah controls the West Bank and the Palestinian Authority. Previous reconciliation efforts have failed at the last minute.
منحهم السامرة

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Japan To Raise Exposure Levels for Children

Related: On the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl explosion and meltdown of Unit 4, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev said, "the duty of the state is to tell the truth to its people" acknowledging that the former Soviet government did not do that during the deadly disaster and its aftermath. He also called for new international rules to be drafted to insure the safety of nuclear plants worldwide. The world community has pledged $780 million to build a new containment structure to replace a temporary sarcophagus that has begun to leak radiation. Russia donated $65.38 million to the effort. The United States has donated $240 million and recently pledged an additional $123 million to clean up the area. Tens of thousand of Ukranians had to be evacuated, including the town of Prypyat with a population of 50,000, never to return to the zone of national sacrifice which extends to a radius of 30kms from the reactor site. Ukraine abandoned nuclear weapons and gave up its stockpile of of highly enriched uranium, becoming a leader in nuclear safety. The US has responded by helping the country to construct a facility for nuclear medicine and research. Japan has called on Russian experience to aid its disposal of high level nuclear waste from the destroyed Fukushima power station.

{25.4.11}The Japanese government has made a decision to raise the permissible level of radiation exposure for children, who are more susceptible to radiation damage than adults, to 2 rems/year, primarily because their schools in Fukushima Prefecture are already experiencing high levels of fallout contamination. Seventy-five percent of schools monitored are reporting readings above the level for a "radiation controlled area". The 2 rem standard is twenty times the allowable U.S. exposure for the public. The government also converted the evacuation zone around the doomed plant to an exclusion zone as expected last week. People entering the zone without authorization can be fined up to $1200 or jailed for 30 days. Former residents of the area will be allowed a single two hour visit to gather their possessions and leave their former homes.

At the ruined Fukushima-daiichi plant, the reactor buildings have been structurally compromised by fire and temblors. Experts are worried that the tons of water being dumped into the buildings to cool the cores and fuel assemblies are putting an unbearable strain on the buildings. TEPCo has little choice but to continue to dump cooling water to prevent further melting and overheating. Damage to the reactor cores and fuel rods is said to be "enormous". Under these conditions, a molten slag can form at the bottom of a reactor vessel which damages seals and eventually burns its way through the steel vessel and containment walls, thus the derivation of the infamous "China Syndrome". High level fallout has so far prevented the installation of any closed loop cooling system. Meanwhile the irradiated cooling water is flowing into the surrounding environment, contaminating the sea and groundwater.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Chart of the Week: The Plutocrats Get Richer

All the serious noise in Washington about this nation's exploding public debt burden conveniently ignores the fact that both sides of the ledger are contributing to the problem. It is not just more government spending on entitlements, but less revenue from the rich. For US Person taxing the rich is simply a question of fundamental social equity, while the Obamatron has to think about the proposition because they are the ones who will fund his billion dollar reelection campaign. These two charts from encapsulate the federal income tax unfairness:
The tax rate for the richest 400 Americans has been cut in half in twelve years.  150 of those 400 pay an effective rate of less than 15% using aggressive tax sheltering techniques and the Bush tax reductions for the rich. While their taxes have dropped, their income has gone ballistic:
Any legitimate budget debate has to include tax equity if middle and working class entitlements are to be cut. Otherwise, its just corporatist posturing:
[credit: Mr. Fish, Harper's Weekly]

Friday, April 22, 2011

Weekend Edition: More Dead Than Meets the Eye

credit: Lori DeAngelis, Arnica Bay, AL
More: Government handling of dolphin deaths are preventing a full scientific investigation of the cause complains Moby Solangi, director of the Marine Mammal Studies Institute in Mississippi. The Institute is not able to conduct necropsies on dolphins because the US Justice Department is apparently using the evidence collected from dolphin necropsies in its criminal case investigation of British Petroleum. According to NOAA there have been 153 dolphin deaths this year, 65 of which were stillborn or aborted calves. Another scientist in Mississippi said "political ramifications" are interfering in a scientific investigation of the cause of a officially declared spike in dolphin mortality in the Gulf of Mexico. NOAA confirmed that two dolphins stranded at low tide in Lousiana were returned to deep water by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife. Researchers say stranded dolphins should be rescued and examined before being returned to the water. Since mid-March about 120 dead sea turtles have also been found. The cause of those deaths has yet to be announced, but a New York Times video suggests the turtles drowned due to entanglement in fishing gear. The Gulf of Mexico is far from being a healthy body of water regardless of propaganda to the contrary or efforts to cover up the true extent of the damage done by a reckless international oil company putting profit above safety.

Update:{4.4.11}One year since the largest unintended oil spill in history, perpetrator British Petroleum has been given approval of its request to resume operations in the Gulf of Mexico on ten existing wells according to The Independent.  However Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has denied any such deal with BP.  The government did issue a deepwater permit to Royal Dutch Shell Oil last month.

{2.4.11} Dolphins are under great environmental stress in the Gulf of Mexico, as witnessed by the extraordinary number of dead calves washing ashore in Mississippi and Alabama. However, wildlife experts believe the actual death count may be much worse. In an article posted at Conservation Letters, the journal of the Conservation Biology Society, the number of dead cetaceans recovered through November, 2010 is 101. That is a relatively low number given the size of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The authors think, based on a statistical analysis of records of carcass detections, survival rates, and stranding, only 2% of cetacean deaths produce a carcass to be recovered. The authors conclude the actual number of dead dolphins and other marine mammals that are protected under federal law, could be 50 times the reported amount. The federal government is conducting necropsies of dolphin infants found dead. They are treating the information obtained from the examinations, much to the disgust of marine biologists, as if it were a criminal forensic investigation. The secrecy is not engendering trust, already at a low point, of the government's handling of the aftermath. Apparently, based on news reports, the Justice Department is considering a criminal manslaughter case against the corporations, British Petroleum and Transocean*, most responsible for the deaths of 11 platform workers. Federal attorneys should not overlook the deaths of hundreds of sentient sea dwellers when it comes to assessing liability for a massive crime against nature.

*Transocean executives received bonuses this year.  The CEO awarded himself $4.3 million in cash, stocks and options, and lauded his company's "best year in safety performance in the company's history"  This is what passes for accountability in the corporate world.  Transocean leased the Deepwater Horizon platform to BP and maintains it has no liability for the disaster.

'Toontime: Show Me Your Papers!

[credit: Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
Wackydoodle sez: "Evin ma' hound got papers!"
The Obamatron has hit a new low.  While mocking his critics for second guessing his administration at California fund raisers for his 2012 re-election campaign, he has approved the use of armed Predator drones against Col. Qaddafi's forces. His escalation of American involvement in the Libyan civil war reflects his opportunistic march to the right and away from the progressive anti-war base of his party. Call it mission creep or "reality creep" his reprise of the Charlatan's neo-con policies is creepy. He has set his sights on regime change in yet a third foreign war, and conceded the domestic faux budget battle to congressional right wing extremists whose main interest is protecting their wealthy sponsors. After three years in office, Obama's policy decisions are becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish from his "war president" predecessor.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Florida Panthers Die at Record Rate

These are not concussed football players. These are a rapidly disappearing icon of the wild (Puma concolor couguar) that has been on the endangered species list for forty years. Official figures are: 23 panthers killed last year, and 11 more already dead in 2011. Out of a population of less than 100, that is a rate to extinction. A coalition of conservation groups filed suit in the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit today to force the US Fish & Wildlife Service to protect the what is left of the panther's rapidly disappearing habitat midst the human sprawl of South Florida. A lower court ruling dismissed a legal effort to order designation of critical habitat, and that order is being appealed. The district judge recognized the panther's plight, but ruled because the mammal was put on the list before habitat preservation requirements became part of the Endangered Species Act, the agency was able to use its discretion to deny habitat designation for the animal. Therefore, the decision was beyond judicial review. The conservation plaintiffs are arguing that to deny a critically endangered mammal the protected habit it must have to survive in the wild is an abuse of agency discretion. Without a reversal from the Eleventh Circuit, the Florida panther will become extinct.

Another human story related to Puma concolor comes from Oregon where the lower chamber of the state legislature voted overwhelmingly to reinstate public hunting of cougars with radio collared dogs. The vote comes after two public referendums on the subject in which Oregon voters humanely decided to outlaw the unsportsmanlike conduct. Apparently, humans are not able to track and keep up with the stealthy predator without help from their canine accomplices and radio tracking devices. Cougar numbers are on the increase in rural Oregon where the usual suspects (ranchers and hunters) are complaining about their elusive competitor. The bill goes to the state Senate where Democrat legislators are expected to vote it down in accordance with the expressed will of their constituents.

Serengeti Highway to Soda Factory

The proposed northern crossing of the Serengeti National Park by a highway is justified by the Tanzania government as much needed access to markets for rural Tanzanian farmers and fishermen living on the shores of Lake Victoria despite the catastrophic implications for migratory wildlife that cross the plains north to south every year in one of nature's great spectacles. Recent developments indicate the primary driver of the highway plan is industrial and mining profits, not improvement of the lives of ordinary Tanzanians. President Kikwete recently gave approval to accelerate development of a soda ash factory on the shores of Lake Natron, the only known breeding grounds of the East African flamingo [photo]. The Indian industrial conglomerate, Tata, wants to construct the plant. Tanzania's President points to Kenya's soda ash operation on the other side of the Rift Valley as justification for exploiting the rich soda ash deposits while wrecking the last breeding refuge of the flamingo. Objecting conservationists are portrayed by the government as unpatriotic interlopers trying to protect "empty mud flats". Germany, Tanzania's former colonial motherland, has offered to fund a southern bypass study, but so far Tanzania officials appear uninterested in the offer. The draft environmental impact study has been labeled "completely inadequate" for not considering alternative routes by the Frankfurt Zoological Society. The study also "contradicts itself" by finding the highway will boost tourism, while at the same time ignoring the adverse impacts the highway will certainly have on migrating herbivores, the big attraction for international tourism.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Chart of the Week: It Was About the Oil

credit: The Independent
Official Washington still denies the Iraq War was about oil. They will be denying that fact until the next resource war takes place. UK's The Independent reveals secret minutes of meetings between ministers and oil company executives five months before the March 2003 invasion. The Trade Minister told BP that the government believed it should be given a share of Iraq's oil and gas reserves as a reward for the UK's participation in "regime change". Documents released under Britain's freedom of information law show at least five meetings concerning Iraq's oil reserves were held between civil servants and oil companies, BP and Shell. The oil companies and then Prime Minister Tony Blair denied in public any such meetings took place.  Blair called the alleged motivation for the war of securing Iraq's oil supply, "absurd".  Yet, twenty year contracts were signed after the invasion covering half of Iraq's reserves--60 billion barrels. The BP and China's CNPC joint venture in the southern Rumalia field alone may produce profits of $658 million a year. British forces were responsible for fighting in southern Iraq before they were withdrawn. Iraq recently reached its highest level of oil production since the invasion. Geologists estimate that Iraq could have reserves of 200 billion barrels, largely unexploited until now. As the UK Foreign Office said in 2002, Iraq was the play. Obamatron said American forces would be out of Iraq by the summer of 2011, but his Defense Secretary now says US forces will stay as long as the client government wants them, making Iraq the new South Korea.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Year of the Tiger: India's Tiger Population Increases

WWF: Tiger drinks at Bandhavagargh NP
India's National Tiger Conservation Authority conducted a tiger census that shows its tiger population has increased to 1,706 from the last tiger census in 2007.  For the first time the survey included non-tiger reserves and areas outside of national parks.  The increase is not solely attributable to counting tigers in previously excluded areas, as some previously counted populations showed increases.  Despite the overall good news, the survey also showed an increase in human-tiger conflicts around reserves and a reduction in the total area occupied by tigers.  WWF supported the survey and the head of its Asian species conservation program said strong protection of core tiger areas and corridors which link them can halt tiger's decline in numbers.  The good news announcement was made at the beginning of a follow-on meeting of tiger range countries in New Delhi as part of the Global Tiger Recovery Program created at Mr. Putin's tiger summit in November.  Urgent, international cooperation is needed if the tiger is to be saved from extinction in the wild.  Tigers have lost more than 97% of their numbers, and 94% of their home range in just 100 years.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Obama Budget Deal Bad for Environment

The budget deal the Obamacon reached with radical Repugnants slashes funding for environmental protection programs. Water quality programs alone account for about 2.6% of the $39 billion in budget cuts. The funds provided to states for safe drinking water and sewer systems were cut by $997 million compared to FY2010. The resolution just passed by Congress also prohibits spending any money on the administration's Wild Lands policy announced in December in which the Secretary of the Interior was to designate new areas as protected wild lands such as Labyrinth Canyon in Utah. The BLM operated under a similar agency policy to protect wild lands for 27 years before the Charlatan prohibited the practice.

Most galling of all budget developments to conservationists is the rider that removs the grey wolf in Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and Utah from the endangered species list. The measure returns wolf management to the states. Wolves were slaughtered in those states by ranchers and hunters who consider the ecologically valuable predator vermin. By 1930 almost all wolves had been eradicated in the lower 48 states. Recently wolf populations have begun to rebound under protection in the Northern Rockies causing anti-wolf legislators to agitate for removing protections. Idaho has declared a "wolf emergency" in which the state's estimated 800 wolves are said to be compromising public safety. [photo credit: ENS, radio collared wolf shot by Montana rancher, 2008]  According to the Center for Biological Diversity, Montana's Democratic senator, "included the rider as a ploy to score political points in his 2012 reelection campaign, and now wolves and other species will have to pay the price." It is a price too high.

'Toontime: 'O' At Warmart

[Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune]
"Yes friends, you too can enjoy three wars at once while cutting your neighbor's health care benefits.  Warmart is the one stop shopping destination for your empire needs.  Always special offers at Warmart where your friendly, helpful generals can show you the latest in hardware that you just got to have.   If it's not at Warmart, it's obsolete!"  Of the 28 members of NATO only six are contributing to the UN authorized air war over Libya.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Big 'Green Kudos' to Bolivia

Readers may remember that Bolivia was the lone hold out to consensus at the Cancún climate conference last year. Socialist Bolivia objected that the agreement to agree hailed as a "success" by other conference delegates did not go far enough to protect indigenous peoples from climate change and establish binding greenhouse emissions targets for industrialized nations. {"Cancun"} Bolivia is now making history with a world first by establishing the legal rights of nature. Just as Americans have enshrined the fiction of corporate "personhood", Bolivia has passed legislation giving nature legal stature as part of a complete restructuring of the Bollivian legal system presided over by socialist President Evo Morales [photo], who himself was a preliterate indigenous person before entering national politics. The reform is heavily influenced by the indigenous Andean spiritual world which puts the Earth deity known as "Pachamama" at the center of life. The draft law states, "She is sacred, fertile and the source of life that feeds and cares for all living beings in her womb.  She is in permanent balance, harmony and communication with the cosmos. She is comprised of all ecosystems and living beings, and their self-organization." Bolivia has suffered serious environmental degradation from mining for tin, silver, gold and other minerals. It is also suffering from weather extremes caused by global warming. Temperatures have risen for sixty years and are expected to rise another 3.5-4℃ within the next 100 years, turning Bolivia into a desert. Bolivia has asked the United Nations to adopt a treaty recognizing the rights of "Mother Earth" to life, clean water and, clean air. Ecuador also has large and powerful indigenous groups and it too has changed its constitution to give nature "the right to exist, persist maintain, and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and processes." While these abstract legal changes give full expression to the proper place of nature and natural processes on the planet, legal implementation and enforcement environmental protection laws remain problematic.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Chart of the Week: Food Is Getting Pricey

These charts from the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization show the increasing global cost of food.{"food prices"} Food prices hit a new high in 2010, as climate disruption and commodities speculation took their toll:
The UN's food index of 55 food commodities (that would make an interesting ETF) has also hit a record of 214.7 points. When derivative markets are linked to commodity trading, the huge concentration of capital in the financial sector can cause unusual food price volatility:
The world's breadbaskets of the United States, Russia, China, Brazil and Argentina all experienced drought, heat waves, flooding, or freezing in 2010. The fact is that world is living on the edge of widespread famine. Technological innovation, sometimes referred to as the "green revolution" has kept food supplies ahead of ever growing demand:
But agricultural markets have become so finely balanced that local production disruptions can reverberate throughout the world's food supply. Many climatologists think that global climate change will bring more frequent and severe weather events that will inevitably disrupt food production. Permanent precipitation and temperature pattern changes will be the new normal, not the subject of cynical political debate.

[chart source:]

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Great Moral Leader?

No, but he gives a good speech. Paul Krugman, Nobel economist and New York Times columnist asks, where is the guy who said "Yes, we can!" Simply put, he was never there. After three years in office Barack Obama's political facade is crumbling. He is not the populist leader willing to take action against the cynicism and deal making of Washington, DC. He is actually "the black face of Wall Street". He did not picket with public employee supporters confronting the poorly disguised Koch brothers attempt to break their union in Wisconsin because he was too busy making sweet budget deals with the 'tea party' radicals. He does not need the little guy to help his re-election campaign because he sold out to his Wall Street backers who are flush with cash from a decade of unfair taxation. The former constitutional law professor denies Wikileaker Bradley Manning is being tortured by the Marines at Quantico, but 250 of his former law professor colleagues say he is wrong. He was going to try the Al Qaeda terrorists in the shadow of the World Trade Center memorial. He was going to close America's first gulag, Guantanamo. Bold policy positions based on principle that are now merely political ephemera. Medicare and Medicaid? We can't afford those popular programs anymore, but we can afford three simultaneous wars! Global warming? His solution appears to be building more vulnerable, risky nuclear power plants with taxpayer money, and sacrificing our public lands and seas to the oil plutocrats. So what he have here is a failure of will, of leadership, and above all, of moral conviction. Everything, as he likes to say, is "on the table", including America's middle class. A genuine albeit flawed Democratic president, Andrew Jackson, said the rich can take of themselves, while ordinary Americans need the protection of good government*. Obama should take his Nobel peace medal and pawn it, not that he needs the money because five will get you ten there is a cushy job on Wall Street waiting for him.

*to see how Progressives would restore fiscal stability go to the Peoples' Budget issued by the House Progressive Caucus.

Japan Dumps Radioactive Water into the Pacific

a GE Mark I BWR, pressure vessel in red
Latest: One month on and the news from Fukushima is not getting better. Finally bowing to reality, the Japanese government is considering upgrading the Fukushima meltdown to the worst level on the international scale of radiological disasters, a 7, or equivalent to the Chernobyl meltdown of 1986. It is also said to be considering a permanent exclusion zone around the nuclear facility making it a "national sacrifice zone" similar to the exclusion zone that surrounds the Chernobyl ruins. The Japanese Nuclear Safety Commission calculated a massive 10,000 terabecquerels of radiation/hr was  released at Fukushima at one point. The number is beyond imagining for most. Suffice it to say that people living as far as 60kms to the northwest and 40kms to the south have already received their annual allowable dose of radiation. Five more villages are slated for evacuation. Another strong aftershock of 6.6 magnitude knocked out power to the plant for about an hour, preventing the pumping of cooling water over spent fuel assemblies and reactor cores. Semi-molten fuel rods and salt buildup from seawater are preventing the free circulation of cooling water according to US engineers sent to the site to help with the disaster.  There are ominous signs that fission has resumed in Unit 2, and a fire broke out at Unit 4 on Tuesday, Tokyo time.

More: {6.4.11}TEPCo reports the high level radioactivity leak in Unit 2 was stopped on Wednesday. But the NY Times reports radioactive spent fuel was ejected from the exploding reactor buildings "up to one mile from the units". Germany's Minister for Environment & Nuclear Safety announced that all of Germany's nuclear power plants will be permanently closed by 2020. Eight will be shut down this year, and the remaining nine by the end of the decade.

Update:{5.4.11}Radiation monitors are basically pegged inside the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear reactor buildings, says a worker interviewed on NHK TV. Levels of 10rems/hour have been measured outside the buildings. Some disaster workers will eventually die from their dosage. The cores of Units 1,2, and 3 remain partially exposed despite weeks of efforts to keep them covered with water, so fuel melting is likely to be continuing. Japan has established its first radiation standards in fish. Fishermen from Ibaraki prefecture  experienced a 65% price decline for their bream and flounder catch. Both iodine and cesium have been measured in seawater exceeding the legal limit by a factor of millions. Radioactivity in exposed marine life will remain for centuries. India is the first country to ban imports of Japanese food products for three months.

AP: old high water mark
{4.4.11}To make room for more highly radiated seawater after use to cool the melting reactors at Fukushima-Daiichi, Japanese disaster workers dumped 11,500 tons of radioactive water into the sea on Monday. Unit 2 has a cracked wet well, the torus shaped concrete containment structure below the pressure vessel [see schematic] that is allowing high level radiation (100rems/hr) to escape into the environment. TEPCo said it has located the crack, but attempts to seal it have proved unsuccessful. Two workers were confirmed dead over the weekend, apparently killed in the initial tsunami. It will take months to put the situation at Fukushima under control with more releases of high level radiation to come*. The computer model used by the UN to predict the public health effects of fallout calculates about 6,000 cancer cases attributable to Fukushima releases. GE said it will donate $10 million to earthquake victims in Japan. The Unit 2 reactor is a GE Mark I with well known containment design flaws that is contributing to the severity of the Fukushima disaster.  GE paid no US income taxes on $5.1 billion in domestic profits last year. GE's CEO Jeff Immelt is on Obamacon's council for jobs and competitiveness. Remember reader, irony does not exist.

*Fukushima has been emitting radioactive iodine and cesium at levels not seen since the Chernobyl meltdown in 1986.  According to the Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics in Vienna, iodine-131 is being released at daily levels equivalent to 73% of Chernobyl levels, while cesium-137 is about 60% of Chernobyl levels.

Monday, April 11, 2011

US Continues to Bomb Libya

A-10 Thunderbolt II
NATO is at the bottom line a US dominated military alliance. Nevertheless, the NATO label does provide a convenient cover for US military operations from Afghanistan to the former Yugoslavia in support of its imperial hegemony. It is no surprise to US Person that once again US air forces are leading the strikes against Col. Qaddafi's troops in the field despite administration claims that US participation in the ostensibly humanitarian effort would be in a support role. US air forces struck Ajdabiyah and Misrata, with punishing air to ground attacks in support of rebel forces. The attacks around Misrata came after rebels complained the UN authorized intervention was failing to aid civilians in the surrounded city. Civilian casualties there are reported to be high. Misrata continues to hold out against Qaddafi, and rebels retook their positions lost to government troops on the outskirts of Ajdabiyah. As of Monday the US has flown 81 missions over Libya, by far the majority of NATO sorties. War mongers in the Senate including Lindsey Graham and John McCain are agitating for more, not less, US military action against Qaddafi.  Sorry, no Medicare for you dear reader because they are spending your tax dollars on more bullets.

Friday, April 08, 2011

'Toontime: Blame it on the 'Tea Party'

[credit: R.J.Matson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch]
Wackydoodle sez: "Mabee he should step outside fer some daylight and clear his head."

Update: The sticking points according to Senate Majority Leader Reid are not the level of budget cuts, but ideologically driven riders attached to the budget bills by Repugnants. Two of the main proposed riders(there are 80 in the House continuing resolution, H.R.1) are anathema for Democrats: defunding Planned Parenthood and preventing the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions. Once again, conservative ideologues are holding the federal government hostage to pass their political agenda which they cannot accomplish otherwise.

If the federal government partially shuts down, it will be because of political extremism on the right. The shutdown is a public relations stunt engineered once before under Newt Gingrich which cost the public over $800 million in lost productivity, for 800,000 furloughed federal government employees. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll says 56% of self-identified Repugnants want the rerun of this stupid confrontation. 66% self-identified Independents want a compromise. This is no way to run a country.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

'Toontime: Blame it on 'March Madness'

[credit: Mark Lester, Rome News-Tribune]
Wackydoodle seize: "This here's a three point play".

More: They call him 'Daffy' Qaddafi. That is a convenient tag for those who have reason to hide the truth. The CIA has plenty reasons. The world dismissed Qaddafi claims of al-Qaeda fomenting the uprising against his autocratic regime as the ravings of an unhinged dictator. Nevertheless a 2007 study by the West Point Military Academy shows there may be some truth to his apparently absurd claim. The "Harmony Project" is an analysis of 600 Al Qaeda personnel files captured by US forces in Iraq. The report allows some insight into the composition of the rebels centered in Benghazi who are fighting to overthrow Col. Qaddafi. Next to Saudi Arabia, Libya sent the most fighters into Iraq from across the Syrian boarder, despite having less than 1/4th of the Saudi Kingdom's population. Libya accounted for almost one fifth of Iraq's foreign fighters. The Libyan fighters originated from a narrow corridor along Libya's north coast between Benghazi and Tobruk, with the town of Darnah in between providing 60%. Many of their files listed "suicide bomber" as their military specialty.  Both Darnah and Benghazi are associated with extremist schools of theology and Islamic militancy according to the West Point's analysts. One group formerly named the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) was in the front ranks of an Islamic uprising against the "apostate" Qaddafi government in the 90's. It is said that the rebellion in northeast Libya, the source of so many jihadists, was fomented by MI-6 and timed to coincide with the assassination of the ruler. MI-6 allegedly paid £100,000 for the contract. The assassination attempt failed, and Qaddafi crushed the rebellion in 1996. (see the Shayler Affair). In November 2007 LIFG officially joined al-Qaeda. Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda's second in command disclosed the merger in a 2008 statement.

What was called Cyrene in the days of the Roman Empire, is the home of the Harabi confederation of tribes. It is traditionally fundamentalist and monarchist. The Benghazi rebel council being supported by NATO intervention is controlled by the Harabi. This confederation suffered at Qaddafi's hands. He confiscated large amounts of tribal members' land and redistributed it to his own tribal supporters. If the United States is in fact covertly arming these same rebels through Egyptian and Saudi mediates in violation of the UN arms embargo, then it may indeed find itself confronted with a "second Afghanistan" armed with modern US weapons, just like the mad dictator said.

{1.4.11}The Libyan war has blown its UN cover story. A-10 Warthogs and AC-130 Specter gunships do not fly air superiority missions. They are advanced US ground attack weapons capable of inflicting frightening mayhem. Both have entered the Libyan civil war to support the weaker side. The US made sure it had wiggle room under the UN mandate to support the uprising directly if that became necessary, and it has. The figurehead of the Benghazi separatists is Mustafa Adbell Jalil, the former 'justice' minister, but his brain, according to international studies professor Vijay Prashad of Trinity College, Connecticut is Mahmoud Jibril, a former head of the National Economic Development Board and a University of Pittsburg Ph.D., who according to a Wikileaks' cable (09TRIPOLI386) is keen on a close relationship with the United States. The rebel forces are under the command of ex-Qaddafi colonel Khalifa Heftir who made a name for himself in Qaddafi's war against Chad. But he had a falling out with Col. Qaddafi, taking up arms against him in an insurgency run from Chad. When the pro-US government of Chad fell in 1990, Heftir retreated to--wait for it--the United States where he took up convenient residence in Vienna, Virginia, seven miles from CIA headquarters in Langley. In March 2011 Heftir flew back to Benghazi to take command of defecting troops. So, the US has its men in place, and soon it will have NATO troops on the ground plus or minus some Americans not wearing their uniforms.

Monday, April 04, 2011

'Toontime: Broken Field Running

[credit: Jim Morin, The Miami Herald]
If Obama campaigns with one hand tied behind his back and promises the moon, he could still win against this collection of radical right half-wits. But his re-election will not produce a functioning government from a political arrangement so radically flawed as the farcical two-party musical chairs brought to you by corporate America.