Archive for July 10th, 2007
I just finished his first novel, Amagansett, set out toward the end of Long Island in 1947. It’s several stories, served in slices, and is hard to put down. Recommended. (I got my copy from the library, which is likely to have it.)
ThinkProgress has compiled a list of the pundits who said, when the surge began, that in 6 months we would know whether it succeeded or not. Read it and weep: these are the people who shape political discourse. God help us.
Note: Six months is also known as a “Friedman unit” (FU) because of the number of times Tom Friedman has said things such as “The next six months are critical” and “The next six months will tell the tale” and “In six months we’ll know,” etc. Over and over and over. Illumination is always six months away for old Tom.
Yesterday I got an email from a reader tying together my terrorism and lead abatement posts. “Maybe the terrorist threat would subside if only we would work to remove lead worldwide?” he joked.
Ha ha. But here’s Brad Plumer:
Another place where a massive lead-abatement really needs to happen is in the developing world. In Pakistan, some 80 percent of children have dangerous levels of lead in their bloodstream, which in turn affects childhood development and, presumably, intelligence.
“Affects childhood development,” of course, is a euphemism for “makes them dumb and violent.” Maybe not such a joke after all.
Brad also reports something else I didn’t know: namely that the Bush administration is apparently in favor of loosening lead regulations in the United States, a transparent bit of industry pandering that makes the Iraq war look like a sober and prescient piece of public policy. Here’s Mark Kleiman on that:
Lead was banned from gasoline during the 1980s. The job was done by the Reagan Administration. Vice President George H.W. Bush and his “regulatory reform” task force had proposed loosening lead limits, but a brilliant analysis spearheaded by my friend Joel Schwartz (then at the EPA, now at the Harvard School of Public Health) managed to turn the proposal around; even the folks at OMB couldn’t deny the data when they had their noses rubbed in them. Such deference to fact would be unthinkable today.
That’s the difference between old reactionary Republicans and contemporary reactionary Republicans. As a friend of mine at DoJ said to me in the summer of 2001, “I never thought I’d look back on the Reagan Administration as the good old days.”
Somebody please just make these people go away.
Labor market flexibility, which helps the economy. Read here.
Everyone knows he’s dishonest. But his dishonesty is what Bush likes about him. Here’s the latest set of lies:
As he sought to renew the USA Patriot Act two years ago, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales assured lawmakers that the FBI had not abused its potent new terrorism-fighting powers. “There has not been one verified case of civil liberties abuse,” Gonzales told senators on April 27, 2005.
Six days earlier, the FBI sent Gonzales a copy of a report that said its agents had obtained personal information that they were not entitled to have. It was one of at least half a dozen reports of legal or procedural violations that Gonzales received in the three months before he made his statement to the Senate intelligence committee, according to internal FBI documents released under the Freedom of Information Act.
The acts recounted in the FBI reports included unauthorized surveillance, an illegal property search and a case in which an Internet firm improperly turned over a compact disc with data that the FBI was not entitled to collect, the documents show. Gonzales was copied on each report that said administrative rules or laws protecting civil liberties and privacy had been violated.
The reports also alerted Gonzales in 2005 to problems with the FBI’s use of an anti-terrorism tool known as a national security letter (NSL), well before the Justice Department’s inspector general brought widespread abuse of the letters in 2004 and 2005 to light in a stinging report this past March.
More at the link, if you can stomach it.
We’re not admitting the Iraqi refugees we promised to admit. Incompetence? or lies?
Despite promising to admit 7,000 Iraqi refugees to the U.S. by the end of September, the Bush administration has allowed in just 133 over the past nine months.
As Iraqis continue to flee their country in record numbers, adding to what is already the largest refugee population in the world, U.S. efforts to accept them are moving at a snail’s pace. Officials predict that at most only 2,000, or less than 30%, of the 7,000 can be processed by Sept. 30.
The delays are due to enhanced security vetting by the Homeland Security Department, which is overseeing the program to take Iraqis referred by the United Nations for resettlement in the U.S., officials said Monday.
Iraqis are subject to more background checks than people from other countries and must undergo extensive individual interviews to qualify for admission due to fears that some seeking to enter the United States may be terrorists or other undesirables.
“While we want to meet our humanitarian obligations here, we also want to make sure we do so in such a way that our borders and the American people are protected,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said. “It’s a big task.”
His comments followed the release last week of the department’s monthly report on refugee admissions that showed only 63 Iraqis had been admitted to the United States in June, up significantly from one each in April and May and eight in March, but still well below the number needed to catch up to meet the deadline.
An internal spreadsheet obtained by The Associated Press shows that between last October, when 2007 fiscal year began, and June 30 only 133 refugees from Iraqi had arrived here, compared to more than 4,000 from Somalia, nearly 3,500 from Iran, 1,600 from Burundi and 1,200 from Liberia. [All of whom, it must be pointed out, are from terrorist-prone countries and thus would also require these background checks that the Administration can't seem to manage for Iraqis. - LG]
590 U.S. soldiers have died and 3,575 have been wounded in Iraq since January 10, 2007. [icasualties.org, 1/10/07-7/9/07]
At least 13,463 civilians and members of the Iraqi Security Forces have died since January 2007, according to media reports. [icasualties.org]
According to an internal military assessment, the U.S. military’s plan to secure Baghdad against a rising insurgency is falling far short of its goal. Fewer than one-third of Baghdad’s neighborhoods are under the control of U.S. and Iraqi forces. [New York Times, 6/4/07]
No progress has been made on the political benchmarks the Iraqi government was supposed to have met already. Oil sharing legislation, the reversal of deBaathification, new election laws, scheduling of provincial elections, amending the constitution and efforts to disband the militias are all languishing either in parliament or in negotiations among the three parties. [Washington Post, 7/8/07]
UPDATE: The Washington Post reminds us that the administration “initially envisioned a troop increase lasting six to eight months,” but is now anticipating “keeping the extra troops in place until next spring and then beginning to pull them back, one brigade at a time.”
UPDATE II: Atrios has quotes by various pundits from one Friedman ago.
Carmona revealed that when he tried to explain the science of stem cell research to the American public, he was “blocked at every turn, told a decision had already been made, stand down, don’t talk about it.” Additionally, political appointees were specifically assigned to “vet his speeches” and “spin [his] words in such a way that would be preferable to a political or ideologically pre-conceived notion that had nothing to do with science.” He was also barred from speaking freely to reporters.
On Thursday, the Senate will consider the nomination of Dr. James Holsinger to be the next Surgeon General. Perhaps not surprisingly, Bush has this time nominated someone who has repeatedly put ideology over sound science, peddling views of homosexuality that have been rejected by the medical community.
The Gavel has more.
These are interesting factoids, but it would have been nice to have some support for them in terms of links to authoritative sources. Take with a grain of salt.
Did you know?
- That the tongue of a whale [what species? Not the narwhal I'll bet. - LG] weighs as much as an elephant.
- By 2003, the number of people [in the US? - LG] who lived together before marriage was a little over 70% as against 5% in the 1960′s.
- According to a recent study, people who talk on cell phones while driving are as impaired as drunk drivers, even when they use hands-free devices.
- The number of people with diabetes worldwide rose from about 30 million to over 230 million. [Over what time frame? Meaningless as is. - LG]
- The three richest men in the world are worth as much as the 40 most poorest countries of the world.
- Over the last eight year, at least 130,000 children [in US? Worldwide? - LG] have been kidnapped for sale, for sexual or labour exploitation or for the removal of their organs. [How do they know? In many cases children simply disappear and their ultimate fate remains unknown. - LG]
- During 2005, there occurred 28 full-fledged wars and eleven other minor armed conflicts, worldwide. [Would be good to know definitions of "full-fledged wars" and "minor armed conflicts". - LG]
- According to the Wall Street Journal (USA), up to half of the couples asked admit that they commit “financial infidelity” – lying to their spouse about expenditure they made. ["Up to"? Was it half? or not? - LG]
- In the United States, half of all adults have gum disease or tooth decay. 3 out of 10 people over 65 have lost all their teeth.
- In Spain about 25% of children are born out of wedlock, 43% in France, 45% in Denmark and 55% in Sweden. [What's the figure for the US? - LG]
- About a third of Britons sleep less than 5 hrs each night. This makes a person more prone to suffer poor concentration, memory lapses and mood swings. It may also increase the risk of obesity, diabetes and depression.
- There are over 18,000 pieces of plastic floating on every sq. kilometer of ocean today. (UN Environmental Programme). [At last! A source! - LG]
- The amount of hours spent by US. Workers every year playing computer games on the job amounted to about half a billion. This is a loss of productivity valued at $10 billion. This however excludes time spent surfing the web at work for personal use. [How do they know? Where did they get the figures? - LG]
- By 2004, every 2 marriages out of 3 weddings failed in Spain.
- Children who spend extended periods in front of the T.V are more likely to develop communication problems. [Than what? Than emotional problems? Than eating problems? Than children who never watch TV? Than children who watch TV for less than 10 minutes at a time? Meaningless, as is. - LG]
- Every second a child dies because they didn’t get enough to eat.
- The oldest known living animal is said to be Harriet, a 150kg. giant tortoise living at a zoo in Brisbane, Australia. [Well, how old is she? - LG]
- “Kangaroo care” for babies is when a parent lies back and cradles their baby against their bare chest for an hour or two each day. According to Japan’s Daily Yomiuri, babies who receive such care sleep longer, have improved breathing and put on weight much faster.
- A survey conducted [by whom? - LG] among individuals from east and south China, with an average of 2.2 billion Yuan ($275 million). The research studied the rich people’s attitude towards faith, marriage, life career and money. It was discovered that a majority of the millionaires hate and love money at the same time. Some said that apart from social status and a sense of accomplishment “annoyance” was the main thing wealth has brought them. [Of course, the obvious question then is: "Why not give away most of it, leaving just enough to live one?" - LG]
From the Marijuana Policy Project:
Would you please take one minute to call your member of Congress and ask him or her to vote in favor of the medical marijuana amendment that the U.S. House of Representatives will be voting on next week?
It’s easy: Just call the Capitol switchboard operator at (202) 224-3121. Give the operator your zip code and ask to be connected to your U.S. House member; you don’t even need to know your congressperson’s name to do this.
When the receptionist for the congressperson — not the Capitol switchboard operator — answers, say something like: “Hi, this is [name]. I live in [city], and I’m calling to ask that my representative vote for Rep. Maurice Hinchey’s [HIN-chee's] medical marijuana amendment to the Justice Department’s spending bill, which I understand will be considered on the House floor next week. The amendment would prohibit the Justice Department from spending taxpayer money to arrest medical marijuana patients in the 12 states where medical marijuana is legal.”
Please call now: (202) 224-3121
Then, please follow up by using MPP’s easy online legislative system to e-mail your member of Congress. Calling and e-mailing take only one minute each.
The House of Representatives has voted on this amendment the last four consecutive summers, but — since last November’s midterm elections provided the most favorable conditions for passing federal medical marijuana legislation since MPP was founded 12 years ago — this year the amendment has the best chance it has ever had of passing.
If you agree that sick and suffering patients should not have to live in fear of armed federal agents breaking down their doors, this is your chance to do something about it. Please call your member of Congress now.
And if you haven’t donated to MPP this year, please consider making a donation today in support of our lobbying efforts. MPP’s staff is working around the clock, making our final push on Capitol Hill. Our lobbying and grassroots teams are fully deployed, connecting constituents with their members of Congress and sending the message loud and clear: Americans want Congress to stop the DEA from arresting seriously ill patients who are using medical marijuana in compliance with state law.
Would you please take one minute to call your congressperson today? Doing so could have a huge impact on the outcome of next week’s medical marijuana vote.
It was two years ago today that I made my first blog post—back then on Blogger.com. I’ve been with WordPress for more than a year now, and I find it a very comfortable blogging spot. And I think I’ve gained some readers over the year, whom I greatly appreciate.
Initially the blog began as a family communication, quickly became a way to rant about politics (the equivalent to fuming, “Can you believe this?!” and then reading aloud the news story that raised my blood pressure), and then has evolved to contain more about my various interests. Currently, you may have noticed, I’m especially interested in shaving, but things evolve (not always with an intelligent design) and who knows what tomorrow will bring? I’m always astonished at discovering some fascinating micro-culture heretofore unknown to me.
At any rate, thanks to you who have been following along, and let me know if you’d like more helpings of this or that.
So I decided to ramp up production a bit. I went out yesterday looking for a glass pitcher. I found the ideal thing at Target (which had exactly one traditional glass pitcher): a half-gallon Pyrex pitcher with a lid. So last night I put 6.75 cups of water in the thing, 1.5 cups of coffee grounds, and let it sit. This morning I drained it off: lots and lots of cold-brewed coffee. Probably too much. Next batch will be 4.5 cups of water and 1 cup of coffee grounds. But it works like a dream. And the iced coffee is really good.
The Apollo Mikron’s shave was exceptionally nice. New UK Wilkinson blade, started at setting 1, moved immediately to 3, and did the shave there. The Apollo’s a hefty guy, and the handle is the same overall length as the Gillette Fat Boy.
I used the Valobra shave stick, a triple-milled soap, because there was some question about whether the soap rubbed onto the mustache whiskers can be worked into the lather (yes) and whether you can get enough lather for three passes (yes). The brush was the ever-handy, ever-wonderful Rooney Style 3 Size 1 Super Silvertip. Very nice brush for this sort of thing.
The shave’s result was a BBS face, which I first burnished with the alum block and then rinsed and applied TOBS Mr. Taylor’s aftershave. I have just read that the Mr. Taylor’s aftershave balm has the same fragrance but stronger, so I must at some point try that.