Saturday, October 08, 2005
Jerry Juhl, the Emmy Award winner, co-wrote most of the Muppet feature films and wrote for "Sesame Street" during its early years, died of cancer Sept. 27 in Caspar CA aged 67.
Jerry was the first employee hired by Jim Henson in 1961, originally to Jim Henson’s wife. He only ever performed as the evil witch Tamanilla Grinderfall but Jerry went on to write "The Muppet Movie," which marked the Muppets' move to the big screen in 1979. He later wrote the screenplay for "The Muppet Christmas Carol" and co-wrote "The Great Muppet Caper," "Muppet Treasure Island" (the greatest film ever made – the final underwater scene of the scuba diving rats being the best piece of film ever) and "Muppets From Space."… and of course wrote “Fraggle Rock” for 5 years.
Scriptwriter for Hanson puppets for years, he also invented the incomparable Gonzo, (who for many years my wife has sworn was modelled on me), the narrator of "The Muppet Christmas Carol" as well as the lead in "Muppets from Space."
He fell out with Brian Henson, retired to Caspar, and was very active in saving the Californian Redwoods … maybe the Postal Services will produce a stamp for him.
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Mr Shaath, the Palestinian foreign minister in 2003, claims Mr Bush told him and other delegates that he was spoken to by God over his plans for war.
He told BBC film-makers, whose 3 part series Elusive Peace: Israel and the Arabs airs from Monday :
"President Bush said to all of us: 'I'm driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan. And I did, and then God would tell me, George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq... And I did. "
"And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East. And by God I'm gonna do it.'"
The Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, who attended the June Sharm-el-Shaikh meeting in 2003 as well, also appears on the documentary series to recount how Mr Bush told him:
"I have a moral and religious obligation. So I will get you a Palestinian state."
Scott McClellan, spokesman and shit shifter for POTUS admitted he was not at the Israeli-Palestinian summit at the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in June 2003 when Mr Bush supposedly revealed the extent of his deep religious fervour but maintained "No, that's absurd. He's never made such comments."....WWGD? the new war cry of the neo-con?
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Friday, October 07, 2005
The satellite survey by the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC), and the space agency NASA reveals that for the fourth consecutive year there has been "a stunning reduction" in Arctic sea ice at the end of the northern summer, placing species such as polar bears at risk. Daily TelegraphWell up to a point Lord Copper.
CryoSat is a 3 year radar altimetry mission to determine variations in the thickness of the Earth’s continental ice sheets and marine ice cover.(it also looks like a flying 'fridge) CryoSat will carry a complex radar instrument called a Synthetic Aperture Radar Interferometric Radar Altimeter (SIRAL). This emits a broad radar beam which exploits a slight frequency shift across the beam to pick out signals reflected from features just 250 metres in diameter. At this resolution, CryoSat will offer a much more accurate overall picture of the ice and how it is changing.i.e it will measure every 250 metres not every 10 Killometres as previous devices.
CryoSat will therefore measure the thickness of the polar ice very accurately — said to be within a margin of just one centimetre. Positioning with a high degree of measuring accuracy, is therefore vital for the success of the mission – especially as previous NOAA temperature recording analysis has been subject to so much controversy and scrutiny.
ESA turned to the Danish company, Terma. Who have supplied 3 HE-5AS Star Trackers, which are essentially very special , compact, low power, digital cameras mounted directly on the SIRAL payload antenna bench of the CryoSat satellite, for optimized structural stability. They take a picture of the starry sky with a field of view of 22° x 22° a CCD 1024 x 1024 pixels — approx. 1 percent of the sky — and then match the patterns with a star catalogue. Thereby, the direction or attitude of the satellite can be determined with an accuracy above 1 arc second or 1/3600º.
Each tiny camera is protected by a baffle to protect them from light from the Sun, Earth, and Moon. Furthermore as the satellite’s orbital position is not solar synchronous, i.e. it will be exposed to extreme heat and permanent shadow respectively for longer periods of time, the Star Trackers are equipped with small radiators and heating elements which can cool down and warm up the electronics.
Due for launch tomorrow (8/10/05) from Russia's Plesetsk Cosmodrome, the 21st Century technological wizardry of CryoSat will sit on top of a Rockot launcher which combines a vintage Cold War,2 stage liquid fuelled ex ICBM SS-19 two-stage rocket plus Breeze-KM third stage to place the payload in orbit.
Bremen based Eurockot Launch Services is a joint venture between EADS Space (formerly Daimler Chrysler Aerospace) and Russia's Khrunichev rocket-makers, CryoSat will be their sixth such launch. Khrunichev have ten SS-19s in storage at their Moscow plant at any one time, which leaves around 150 still to be flown. Khrunichev in 1998-9 designed the wider-diameter Breeze-KM upper stage to satisfy the requirements of Iridium LLC, the Israeli corporation that established a 66-satellite constellation for worldwide telephone services.
All launches are performed by military personnel.
CryoSat will be their sixth such launch. Khrunichev have ten SS-19s in storage at their Moscow plant at any one time, which leaves around 150 still to be flown. Khrunichev in 1998-9 designed the wider-diameter Breeze-KM upper stage to satisfy the requirements of Iridium LLC, the Israeli corporation that established a 66-satellite constellation for worldwide telephone services. (the element Iridium has 66 electrons)
All launches are performed by military personnel, this their first for ESA.
After CryoSat, Eurockot plan launches for ESA's, Earth Explorer missions GOCE in 2006 (GOCE (Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Mission) - provide the data set required to accurately determine global and regional models of the Earth's gravity field and the geoid. It will also advance research in the fields of steady-state ocean circulation, physics of the Earth's interior, geodesy and surveying, and sea-level change.)and SMOS in 2007 (SMOS (Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity) - will provide global observations of soil
moisture and ocean salinity to improve modelling of the weather and climate.It will also monitor vegetation water content, snow cover and ice structure.)ESA's technology demonstrator Proba-2 will probably be flying in 2008. The company hopes for further ESA launch contracts into the next decade, and additional launches for Japanese and Korean customers.
Recent blogs on same topic here
Road crashes are the leading cause of death and hospital admission for people under 50 years old in the European Union. In the UK 100 people per week die in road accidents. For every death, eleven require hospital treatment and two people suffer permanent disability. (1*) A New Zealand study showed that victims of road traffic crashes accounted for 30% of intensive care admissions and 40% of inpatient days in their Auckland based intensive care unit.
In 2001 the EU determined that by 2010 the 40,000 road deaths a year (of the then members) should be reduced by by 50% by 2010(2*) Figures available suggest it is virtually unchanged – as more vehicles hit the road , each other and pedestrians.
22 years of crash research has been coordinated by the European Enhanced Vehicle-safety Committee, they originally proposed standardised car crash tests in 1991 and updated them in 1994 and 1998. The Governments of Catalonia, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom, support the resultant tests, which are undertaken by Euro NCAP in 3 classes : Adult occupants, Pedestrians and Children and the results are available here. Check your vehicle out, it makes sobering reading
The British Medical Journal in an editorial today reveals that SUV’s , result in more frequent and more severe damage to pedestrians, especially the vulnerable old and the young and now represent almost 8% of new UK registrations. In the United States 40% of new vehicles purchased are classified as light trucks or vans. Analysis of accidents show that, for the same collision speed, the likelihood of a pedestrian fatality is nearly doubled in crash with an SUV compared with a passenger car. If you want to learn more about the physics of car crashes, and how injuries rise as a square of the speed, go here . More sobering reading.
People over 60 are more than four times as likely to die if injured in a crash.
Small children are over represented in driveway accidents with SUV’s, probably a result of the increased height of the vehicle and the driver's reduced ability to see things immediately around the vehicle. An Australian study in New South Wales (2004) showed that typically, the injury involved a parent or relative reversing a motor vehicle in the home driveway over a toddler or preschool-age child in the late afternoon or early evening. Four-wheel-drive or light commercial vehicles were involved in 42% of all injuries, such vehicles were associated with a 2.5-times increased risk of fatality. In 13 of the 14 deaths, the cause was a severe head injury not amenable to medical intervention.
It is a popular belief that increase in vehicle mass of SUV’s results in an increased hazard to pedestrians. However, mass is important in car to car crashes, but given the large disparity between the weights of the pedestrian and of the vehicle is a variable of no significance to outcomes. Increased mortality and morbidity arises primarily from the geometry of the front end structure and speed of impact. Typically in a car crash, the bumper strikes the lower legs and the leading edge of the bonnet strikes the femur/pelvis, causing the pedestrian to rotate towards the bonnet resulting in the head and shoulders hitting the bonnet or windscreen. Consequently the principal pedestrian injuries from cars are fractures of the tibia and fibula and knee injuries from the primary bumper impact and secondary head injuries from impact with the bonnet or windscreen.
The leading edge of SUV’s at (typically 850mm) are a great deal higher than cars (500mm) so crash impact, results in a more severe primary impact on the critical central body regions of the upper leg and pelvis. This results in a doubling of injuries to vulnerable regions such as the head, thorax, abdomen and internal soft organs.... gulp!So called “bull bars” which are often fitted on SUV’s are an extra (and unecessary) hazard which result in, isolating any built in “crumple zones” and focus the energy on impact, so that it is not disspated and results in forces of many tonnes per square inch, just as being trodden on by a high heel, increases the force of impact compared with a normal shoe heel.... but hey they look good...Whoooop de doooo!!!!
Advertising for vehicles always stresses safety to the occupants, crumple zones, air bags, seat belts, and never that of pedestrians – the potential purchaser never wants to be reminded that the vehicle they are buying is a lethal weapon which keeps A & E (ER) intensive care units busy around the world, around the clock.
General Motors SUV and light truck sales fell 30 percent in September Ford’s 20%, even with employee pricing .. perhaps these gas guzzling behemoths of the blacktop are on the way out … and helping making the roads in the US that bit safer. In 2004 US road fatalities fell overall from a peak of 43,000 in 2002 to 42,000 with all types of vehicle classes declining except SUV’s and motorcycles (up 6/7%) ..... an astonishing 17,000 or 40% were alcohol related.
1. European Transport Safety Council. Transport safety performance in the EU: a statistical overview. Brussels: ETSC, 2003.
2. Commission of the European Communities. White paper on the common transport policy for 2010: Time to decide. COM (2001) 370, 2001.)
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Thursday, October 06, 2005
President Bush vowed on taking office to cut pet projects from the federal budget... the nation waits for him to veto his first spending bill.. so I now take an interest in the things that he doesn’t veto.
Since meeting Stacey Fritz of Fairbanks based No Nukes North I have taken a special interest in things Alaskan, so have been puzzled by the latest Pacific culinary delight .......
…Salmon and pork ?
If it takes a week to paint your standard 737, how come it takes Mark Boyle 1 year to plan and 30 painters (including three Hollywood set-design specialists), 24 days to paint Alaskan Airlines 120-foot-long Boeing 737 ?
Well, federally funded Alaska Fisheries Marketing Board ($29 million in 2 years of taxpayers money) added $225,000 to the normal $75,000 repaint budget. The rest of the $500,000 budget goes on bookmarks that will be passed out to passengers as part of an educational campaign about the state of Alaska's fishing industry. Of course don't forget that senator Ted Stevens son, state Sen. Ben Stevens, is chairman of the agency’s board of directors…. (go here at the Anchorage Daily News for the court cases, secret deals with Ben, Adak fisheries and Aleut fishing profits etc., etc., .. but that's another juicy fishy story)
The Alaska Airlines salmon jet is to make its local debut… today at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.There is also the federally funded Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, they $5 million a year from taxpayers and the same from fishing companies. Alaska Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Ted Stevens both claim credit for grabbing federal money for the state's salmon industry, including the money to research use of salmon as a base for baby food.The Alaska Airlines salmon jet made it's local debut… at .... Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.
The one-of-a-kind "Salmon-Thirty-Salmon," is Alaska Airlines’ name for the flying billboard, which remains a passenger plane to …er …give it maximum exposure to potential seafood consumers. After that, the plane will fly West Coast passenger routes as far south as Mexico. It will also fly to Denver, Chicago and the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
"Is there something wrong with these fish that warrants such an expensive program to convince us to eat them?" wondered Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in 2004.
“You can catch a salmon in Alaska waters, and within 24 hours you'll have it on a plate in New York City. We're pretty much the only airline that can do that kind of business," said Matt Yerbic, managing director for the airline's cargo operations.
Surely a case of a federal budget which could be “given back” and re-directed to Katrina .. for more see
Citizens Against Government Waste, say Congress spent more tax dollars on pork spending in 2005 than in any other year in history with 31% more projects = 13,997 (40.5% increase) projects for $27.3 billion. (2004 $22.9). (yes folks - that's an eye -popping $27,300,000,000!)
"Despite a record $427 billion deficit predicted for fiscal 2005, members of Congress are engaging in the worst form of blatant self-interest – larding the budget with pork for home districts and states," claims CAGW President Tom Schatz.
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Geoff Hill, will be signing copies of his latest book, now out in paperback, “What happens after Mugabe?” Geoff , winner of the 2000 Commonwealth Short Story Award for Africa. will be speaking about his book at the Africa Book Centre, 38 King Street, Covent Garden, London WC2E 8JT on Friday, 7th October from 6.30 pm.
Schools and hospitals have collapsed, a third of the population lives in exile and 3,000 people are said to die of AIDS every week. Once Africa’s second-biggest exporter of food, 70 per cent of the country lives under conditions of famine in the wake of violent land reform.
What will it take to rebuild Zimbabwe? Geoff discusses many relevant issues and asks serious questions, including:
• Will 4 million exiles go home to a country with 80 per cent unemployment?
• Should there be war-crimes trials?
• Can the economy be revived?
• Where will the billions of dollars come from that are needed to put things right?
Saturday 7th October is Week 156 of the Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 the Strand, London, which takes place every Saturday from 12.00 to 18.00* to protest against gross violations of human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe.
There is an excellent piece at Canned Revolution about the role of China in propping up Mugabe and their rape of African raw materials . Link
“In a Channel 4 special report on China’s involvement in Africa, Sierra Leone Human Rights politician Zainab Bangura expressed a fear that the Chinese ‘no strings attached’ aid policy will be a more appealing prospect to African dictatorships than the development model promulgated by the World Bank; leading the West to lower their high human rights benchmark.
“If anyone starts trying to change the constitution or imprisoning journalists or breaching procurement rules and regulations, they’ll (the US and UK) pretend not to understand because they’re afraid they’ll go over to China.”
In the Darfur region of Sudan, where civil war led to a humanitarian catastrophe, the CCP’s arms sale and foreign investment ran counter to the international attempt to restore peace.”
Go and read it.... NOW ... also excellent Zimpundit blog also look at this.
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Wednesday, October 05, 2005
It seems remarkable but Jim Henson's "Sam and Friends" which introduced Kermit, Miss Piggy, the Swedish Chef, and Dr. Bunson Honeydew and his assistant Beaker started 50 Years ago.
The puppets are to feature in a set of 20, new 37 Cent stamps to be launched on Thursday to celebrate their longevity .... although I'll swear Miss Piggy doesn't look a day older.The stamps include a 1986 Norman Seeff photograph of Henson accompanied by his visionary quote: "When I was young, my ambition was to be one of the people who made a difference in this world. My hope is to leave the world a little bit better for my having been there."
Suggestions that Helen Miers modelled herself on the very tough lady pig are waaaaaay outta line.
Working for a lawfirm that specializes in "union busting avoidance" seems to be a "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval" for Bush administration nominees. Like Ed Foulke, Bush's recent nominee for head of OSHA, Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers' former lawfirm, Austin based Locke Liddell & Sapp, of which she was co-managing partner, had an active union avoidance practice (they have also contributed to the Tom Delay Expenses fund):
The threat of a union organizing effort or strike can be traumatic for any company- which is why you need an experienced partner on your side. Locke Liddell labor and employment law lawyers have handled hundreds of union arbitrations and labor contracts, and have extensive experience in union avoidance counseling....For union-free companies, we provide union-avoidance advice and strategies in emerging situations. Our experience extends to the most specialized areas, including the Railway Labor Act that governs many union actions. We have handled a major strike against a national transportation company, and use such experience to counsel any size business on its labor relations concerns.More here
She has had no experience in judging ...so neither have many other Supreme Court Appointees see here
Helen Miers is of course, like Condoleezza Rice, unmarried, childless and a “very close personal friend” of Dubya’s with overnight visiting rights to the Austin Gubernatorial mansion (see "The White House Wives"). She has ties to evangelical Christian churches but this didn’t stop her being Chairman of the Texas Lottery...(see more below) run by Gtech. UK readers will remember Gtech’s Guy Snowden not only provided flights for the UK Oflot regulator but also had a misunderstanding of what was discussed in a meeting and resulted in Virgin’s Richard Branson suing for libel
Branson claimed that Guy Snowden, GTech's chairman and chief executive had offered him a bribe to withdraw his non-profit bid to run the UK national lottery.
He won £100,000 and Snowden resigned. GTech has been the subject of six FBI investigations in the US.
Ex IBM manager Snowden now heads Richardson, TX based GTESS …”Simply put, GTESS applies specialized, proprietary technology to automate highly manual, error-prone medical claim payment processes.”
However that’s not all….... in 1997, when GTech's licence for operating the Texas State lottery was under fire.. The lottery director was sacked following the revelation that GTech had put her boyfriend on the company payroll while he was under indictment for bribery
A new, clean-hands director, Lawrence Littwin, was appointed by the Texas Lottery Commission then headed by Governor Bush, recently appointed "close personal friend", Helen Miers. Littwin demanded an audit of GTech's accounts, he ended GTech's contract and put it out for re-tender. He also launched an inquiry into GTech's political donations.
But something went wrong. The Texas Lottery Commission headed by Helen Miers fired Littwin. Almost immediately, Governor Dubya Bush’s -appointed commissioners cancelled the bidding for a new operator, although the winner had already been announced - and it was not GTech. The commissioners John Hill, and Anthony Sadberry and Helen Miers also halted the financial audit, ended the political payola investigation that Littwin was keen on - and re-instated GTech.
Well Gtech paid lobbyist Ben Barnes, ( then and now (ex) lieutenant-governor of Texas), fees of an eye - popping $23 million (£14.2 million) – the same Ben Barnes whose aide had suggested in 1968 to Brigadier-General James Rose that he find a safe spot in the Air Guard for Congressman Bush's son. Who was now the Governor....and is now the POTUS.
News of the payment to Barnes was in an unsigned letter to the US Justice Department, in a civil suit by Littwin – Barnes did concede he got Bush Jnr into the Guard; and he received millions from GTech.
Coincidentally GTech chairman Guy Snowden was a partner in a big real estate venture with Barnes's wife. Anyway in November 1999 Gtech agreed to pay $300,000 to Littwin. In return, the former Texas Lottery agreed to seal Barnes's five-hour deposition transcript....and of course this silences Littwin - unless of course the Senate Appointments Committee asked him to testify ?
After Littwin was dismissed, the Democratic-controlled Texas House of Representatives passed a resolution accusing the commission of stopping the investigation of GTech.
''The investigation was never completed," the resolution stated. ''The Texas Lottery Commission did not take any action."
Helen Miers resigned in 2000 before her 4 years were up. The pic above shows Helen advising her "very close friend" about Osama Bin Laden - maybe if Reuters run those pictures by Photoshop they will find he was probably asking for some "bathroom" time.
Gtech is still running the Texas State Lottery.
You can, of course be certain that they have cleaned up their act....of course.
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Tuesday, October 04, 2005
The FBI arrested Link Thomas Nelson Barnes III, (48) of DynCorp International, as he arrived at Dulles International Airport on September 20th 2005.
He was charged Link with distributing identity badges that control access to Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone to people not allowed to receive them, including an Iraqi woman he was dating. He could face up to 5 years in prison.
The 50 year old Irving, TX.-based DynCorp was awarded a $7.7 million Pentagon contract in March 2004 to establish a program with 50 staff to centralize ID badges being given out for the Green Zone by a variety of government agencies.
The badges are in different colours indicating level of access to the Green Zone. The highest access is blue. An FBI affidavit, filed in federal court in Alexandria, said Barnes gave a Mohammad Al-Tarawneh, a badge that provided the highest level of access to the Green Zone, two levels higher than he was cleared to receive.
The FBI affidavit alleges that. Barnes sidestepped security checks and issued top-access badges to an Iraqi woman he was dating and several members of her family, all of whom were entitled only to lesser-access badges.
Barnes, of Fort Worth, appeared in U.S. District Court in Alexandria yesterday and was released on a personal recognizance bond pending another hearing Thursday – for which there are no press reports – maybe he was a no – show ?
DynCorp are the Pentagon’s rent-a-cop business, they run the security show in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the US-Mexico border. They run the coca crop-dusting business in Colombia, and are responsible for all security on Air Force One and state aircraft.
In 2001 Ben Johnston, a DynCorp aircraft mechanic for Apache and Blackhawk helicopters in Kosovo, filed a lawsuit against his employer alleging that that in the latter part of 1999 Johnson "learned that employees and supervisors from DynCorp were engaging in perverse, illegal and inhumane behavior [and] were purchasing illegal weapons, women, forged passports and [participating in] other immoral acts." Johnston was fired, the men alleged to have bought and sold 13 /14 year old girls quietly left the company.
Kathryn Bolkovac, a U.N. International Police Force monitor ( A US citizen from Nebraska) filed a lawsuit in Salisbury,Britain, wher DynCorp had offices, in 2001 against DynCorp for firing her after she reported that Dyncorp police trainers in Bosnia were paying for prostitutes and participating in sex trafficking. Many of the Dyncorp employees were forced to resign under suspicion of illegal activity. None were prosecuted, since they enjoy immunity from prosecution in Bosnia. DynCorp officials said they fired eight employees serving in Tuzla between 1999 and 2000. She was awarded £110,000.
DynCorp are just one of many privatised armies paid for by the Pentagon -- The Steele Foundation, which provided the security detail for former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was briefly embroiled in controversy when Aristide accused it of withdrawing its agents under orders of the U.S. government when he was overthrown in February.
Sometimes you wonder who they report to - The BBC reported The US State Department rebuked DynCorp over the "aggressive behaviour" of guards hired to protect Afghan leader Hamid Karzai one of whom slapped an Afghan Minister.
DynCorp hires the pilots, mostly retired U.S. military flyers, who defoliate
coca and opium poppy crops in Colombia as part of a U.S.-Colombian operation called Plan Colombia. In Peru, a plane carrying an American missionary was accidentally shot down when a DynCorp pilot misidentified it as a drug-smuggling flight.
One of the interesting Former Chairmen and now a Director of Dyncorp is Herbert S. "Pug" Winokur, Jr., is described as Chairman and CEO of Capricorn Holdings, Inc., and Former Senior Executive Vice President, Penn Central Corporation.
As the Insiders' Insider, "Pug" Winokur has been such a permanent fixture in the Washington Old Boy Network that he's even mentioned in a 1978 book by Daniel Guttman called "The Shadow Government."
Historically Winokur's Capricorn Holdings ( and good ol’ boy Kenny Lay was /is a Director) was used as an investment vehicle in NHP, an apartment management firm headed by Roderick Heller III.
In turn, NHP's assets included oft-purloined and defaulted HUD Section 8 subsidy housing, a notorious and well-known vehicle for fraud and money laundering.
Winokur was also on the Board of Directors of Harvard Endowment Fund, which purchased 50 percent of NHP, making the prestigious Harvard a prototypical, but very low-profile, slum landlord. (See Bushwacked"
It should also be noted that George Bush Jr. attended Harvard Business School. Later, after Bush joined Harken Energy Corp and became a director, the largest stock position and seat on the board was acquired by Harvard Management Co.
Winokur was also on the Board of Directors of Enron.
Recent blogs on same topic here
Monday, October 03, 2005
A Danish soldier was killed and 2 others were seriously wounded when a roadside bomb blew up alongside their vehicle on a bridge near Basra on Saturday Link. Denmark's Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Danish soldiers were making praiseworthy efforts to create a better life for the Iraqi people.
"Terrorists may not, by these hateful and cowardly acts, succeed in preventing progress and create chaos in Iraq," he said in a statement. "The government therefore intends to continue its policy in Iraq."... which is Danish for "Bring 'em on!!"
Iraqi police officer Mohammed Uraibi said at the scene of the attack that it may have been a remotely controlled explosion. Danish forces commander Lieutenant Colonel Tommy Kjær said that there would probably be a change in procedures to avoid future casualties. (See below for the US experience)
"There are a number of possibilities. We can use other roads than we normally take and use more heavily armoured vehicles,' Kjær noted that insurgents' methods were becoming more dangerous.There is a tendency that they use more and more advanced technology. For example, they use remote control to trigger bombs. We are aware of that, and we try to take steps to prepare for that, but it's difficult," said Kjær.The fallen soldier was the first Dane killed by enemy fire in Iraq, and a sombre mood prevailed at the Danish soldiers' base, Camp Danevang, after the weekend's event. A memorial service was held, and soldiers had been offered counselling.
This is the second death of Danish soldier, the first was killed by “friendly fire” Corporal Preben Pedersen, 34, in Al-Madinah, about 50 kilometres (30 miles) north of Basra, in January 2004.
At the time Denmark's Defence Minister Svend Aage Jensby told Danish radio. "It's tragic that one of our soldiers...has lost his life while working to help the Iraqi people get back on their feet," "We have lost soldiers in the Balkans, in Afghanistan, and now it has also hit us in Iraq." He said the death would not affect Denmark's decision to keep troops in Iraq. The Danish public has been very was divided over the issue and large peace rallies have been held in Copenhagen.
The prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen , Liberal Party (Venstre) called a snap election on January 18th 2005, with a year left of his 4 year term. Mogens Lyketoft of the opposition Social Democrat Party (SD) said at the time in a TV debate ...
“I am in favour of the withdrawal of our contingent at the end of its mandate at the beginning of June since we cannot continue to take part in something that many Iraqi’s consider to be an army of occupation,”… “Denmark will never take part in a war against Iraq that the Secretary General of the UN qualified as illegal. We shall never commit the same error that Anders Fogh Rasmussen committed by entering a war without the UN’s mandate and thereby breaking up European cohesion. We shall not follow the USA blindly as the present government has done. We shall be a critical ally,”Denmark has a population of 5.34 million with 4 million registered voters and a remarkably dutiful 84.4% of them voted .The Social Democrats lost 5 seats and leader Mogens Lykketoft honourably resigned immediately after the election.
A recent poll showed 63% of responders agreed with the withdrawal of Danish troops from Iraq. Today's news will encourage others to join them in calling for the troops to leave Iraq as soon as practicable.
Joseph Heller should be writing this ...
Tom Lasseter of Knight Ridder spent 5 days as an embedded at Muqdadiyah in Diyala Province, a “quiet” area. Yet on the main supply route to the base, Route Vanessa, on the edge of Muqdadiyah, the U.S. military has reduced patrols from 24-hour cycles to two daily five-hour rotations. Explosives hit the military's bomb-detecting truck every day for 11 straight days in August. Commanders routinely call in F-16s to provide close support for the vehicle.
"We go out and kill the bad guys one at a time," said Hendricks, 32, who speaks with the soft accent of his native Claremore, Okla., where his high school graduating class had 55 students. "But we're just whittling down one group so it's easier for the other groups to kill them."
"They say attacks are down. Well, no shit," Hendricks said. "We're not patrolling where the bad guys are."
Pointing to Route Marie on a map on the wall of his barracks, Hendricks traced a 2-mile stretch of the road with his index finger where patrols ended in late May.
"They kicked our ass off this road," Hendricks said. "They hit us with so many IEDs we had to stop using it."
Meanwhile ... U.S. Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, a military spokesman in Baghdad, pointed to Diyala and the 13 other provinces in September as examples of a weakened insurgency.
"So what I'm trying to show you is ... there is indeed areas of Iraq that are relatively safe and secure, and those people in those provinces are working their way towards a peaceful society as they work their way towards democracy," Lynch said, motioning to a map of Iraq.
What emerges is a picture of an occupation force with its hands full, it's morale down, trying to keep the roads open to its forward operating bases, while leaving the rest of the province to Iraqi police or military units, or to the insurgents -- who, of course, are often the same people.
So you have the most powerful military forces in the world, supporting a corrupt, divided, untrustworthy, Iraqi military / police force, trying to stumble along to elections, in a country that the capital can boast of six hours electricity a day.... which is worse than it was before the whole violent bloodletting started. Yossarian would be at home.
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The Sunday Herald today reports that John McTernan, Tony Blair’s Directorof political operations said that building a new nuclear power station at Dounreay would be the ideal way of undermining their Liberal Democrat coalition colleagues. It is claimed he said the plan would boost the chances of First Minister Jack McConnell’ s party winning Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, the seat that is home to Dounreay and which is held by the LibDems. The proposal is part of a Labour strategy personally approved by Blair to attack the LibDems in the run up to the poll. It was aired at a gathering of Labour special advisers in August at St Andrews House in Edinburgh. The Dounreay episode confirms that nuclear power is seriously back on the political agenda. When asked, McTernan downplayed but did not deny his remarks and said he was joking. John McTernan has also worked as head of strategy for Scotland's former first minister, Henry McLeish.'It's an extremely rich experience,' he told the Observer on March 11th 2002
'You get unparalleled access to government at the highest levels. If you like politics - and most of the people who become advisers are complete addicts - this is the ultimate job. It's like The West Wing, only you're in it instead of watching it.So now you know where New Labour gets it's
Sunday, October 02, 2005
"Concerted international effort' necessary to fight climate change"
24 February 2003
On the eve of pubishing the Energy White paper in 2003, Tony Blair spoke about the Government's energy policy.
"We know now, from further research and evidence, that to stop further damage to the climate we need a 60% of emissions reduction world-wide. The Royal Commission on Environmental Protection found just that: a 60% reduction by 2050 was essential.
So it is clear Kyoto is not radical enough. But it is at the moment the most that is politically achievable. And even the Kyoto targets have proved controversial with some countries, notably America. Many see it as a threat to the pursuit of economic growth."
"I believe this needn't be the case. If we harness new technology the evidence is mounting that we can achieve a target of 60% - and at reasonable cost."
"Solar energy alone, for example, could supply world energy demand using 1% of the land currently under crops and pasture. There is also huge potential from wind, wave and other renewable technologies.
"Improving the efficiency with which we operate our energy processes also offers enormous savings - up to half our energy use could be saved by the use of known efficiency techniques."
"The ability of hydrogen to replace fossil fuels, especially in transport, will also transform our energy system …"
"We will also set out later today our ambition to double the amount of energy supplied by renewables."
On 27 January 2005, Tony Blair, spoke to the World Economic Forum..where of course he had the oportunity to speak to POTUS (presumably after he had fallen off his bike).He could also review the fact that energy consumption relentlessly increases 1-2% per annum and the total installed base of renewable energy was less than 1/2% of electrical production, and that only by including hydro lectric power (for which there is zero potential growth in the UK) can any meaningful level of output be claimed. Also whilst massive claims have been made for offshore wind power, the steam ..er ... or wind is being knocked out of their sails, by the horrendous (and entirely predictable cost of installing distibution networks).
Secondly, through the G8 process I want to develop a package of practical measures, largely focused on technology, to cut emissions. And here I don’t just mean research into new technologies, important though that is. I also think we need to work much harder to find ways to implement the vast range of low-carbon technologies that have already been developed. Energy efficiency. Renewable energy sources. Cleaner fossil fuels. Avoiding waste. All of this can be done, and often at a much lower cost than we realise.
Tony Blair Pulls the Plug on Kyoto at Clinton Summit
Mr Blair told the New York conference organised by Bill Clinton :
"I would say probably I'm changing my thinking about this in the past two or three years. (ie since publishing Energy White Paper)I think if we are going to get action we have got to start from the brutal honesty about the politics of how we deal with it. "The truth is, no country is going to cut its growth or consumption substantially in the light of a long-term environmental problem. "Some people have signed Kyoto, some people haven't signed Kyoto, right? That is a disagreement. It's there. It's not going to be resolved."
so...a few days later at the Labour Party Conference ...
.... Government is to hold a full review of nuclear power and renewable energy sources - including clean coal - next year. Malcolm Wicks, the Energy minister, said it would be "more difficult" for Britain to meet its targets on cutting carbon emissions without nuclear power.
Speaking at a fringe meeting organised by the nuclear industry at the Labour Party Conference 2005 , newly appointed Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks (5th so far under Tony) said the government was "keeping options open" about expanding the nuclear industry as a way of reducing global warming.
"I think, in principle, we can meet our climate change targets without going down the nuclear route but it would be more difficult," Mr Wicks said. "I think it would help us tackle our challenge of climate change, all things being equal. But there is no silver bullet."Malcolm Wicks is to lead the review into energy sources that will examine the cost of nuclear power and the role it can play in securing future energy supplies and tackling climate change.
Tony Blair has put his personal authority behind a fresh look at nuclear power as a way to cut carbon emissions. He also strongly indicated it could help guarantee the security of future energy supplies in Britain, reducing reliance on oil and gas piped in from abroad.
In an interview with The Observer, Wicks, who stresses he is a nuclear agnostic, said: "I feel that the issue is much more open. There always seem to be those who will be dead opposed - the history, the linkages to nuclear weapons."
Asked if political and public opinion had moved on the issue since the government's 2003 Energy White Paper - which questioned the economic case for nuclear and concluded it was an 'unattractive' option - he said:
"I do feel among many of my parliamentary colleagues and in public opinion there is more open-mindedness. There are hearts and minds to be won."
As one of his apparatchik Ministers said on BBC Question Time, admitting there had been a U turn in Government policy,(one of many) " Yes, but we are pressing forward fast , just in a different direction".
Recent blogs on same topic here
Tony Blair’s Labour Party Conference speech (if you can call his staccato, breathy, “I speak you weight” delivery, a speech) will never be held up as those of Cicero as a masterpiece of rhetoric, or style. They do however bear consideration to try to identify strands of Government (of what we will call for want of a better expression) ,thinking…
Under pressure, as in the blitz, when we stood alone, unlike the cheese eating surrender monkeys and the armless and charmless Germans no doubt looking for a sun-bed to lob their towel on in a pre-dawn sneaky raid ..
And when terrorism struck, the same pride and confidence asserted itself, to the envy and awe of the watching world.
London, that day, did Britain proud. (sic)
This is a country today that increasingly sets the standard.
Not for us the malaise of France or the angst of Germany.
Written it would appear by the Sun leader writer, he seeks only to confirm, if confirmation is needed, that, when needed, we cannot rely on our European second cousins. However this uber Jingoism is married to a profound realism baout the place of the UK in the "manifest destiny". Westward look the land is bright !
Britain should also remain the strongest ally of the United States.
I never doubted after September 11th that our place was alongside America and I don't doubt it now.
One may see this theme developed earlier by Lord Drayson,(the man who did rather well our of the smallpox vaccine war on terror initiative) the recently appointed Minister for Defence Procurement, made his first keynote address to the Royal United Services Institute on 12 September 2005 on the subject of the Defence Industrial Strategy.
By December, we will not be able to cover all the sectors to the same depth, and there will be an element of ongoing work. But I am demanding gritty conclusions on shipbuilding and ship support; fixed wing aircraft (including Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)); rotorcraft; guided weapons; general munitions; armoured fighting vehicles; and a number of other key areas.(nuclear war heads update ?)
…….those who are most keen for us to set out what we want to source uniquely from the UK may not get all the conclusions they would like.
……..ultimately, if foreign taxpayers end up subsidising the equipment we operate, so be it.
The assembled UK industrialist, who looked as though they hadn't done very well out of the war, were given a stark warning …
…….The list of industrial capabilities that must be sourced from the UK will, I expect, be a short one.
Which bears repeating .. so he did a couple of paragraphs later.
So, as I said, I do not expect the list of capabilities that must be fostered and sustained in the UK to be a long one.
It is therefore interesting to see that the MOD managed to hide away an interesting item on Friday afternoon 30th September 2005.
Iraqi Army takes charge at Camp Chindit
On 29 September 2005 the 1st Royal Anglians handed over Camp Chindit near Al-Zubaya. The camp was a company location used to support about 120 troops, and will in future serve as a base for engineers from the Iraqi army. Camp Chindit is the first such camp to be handed over.
The handover was conducted by Lt Col Eddie Thorne MC, Commanding Officer of 1st Battalion the Royal Anglian Regiment and Lt Col Abdul Hussain, Commanding Officer of 2nd Battalion the Iraqi Army which is part of 10 Division based in Multi-National Division (South East). (MOD pic)
Recent blogs on same topic here