Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Stop porn rather than terrorists or corruption: the Justice Department's new priority.law.com - U.S. Attorney's Porn Fight Gets Bad Reviews

How the federal government failed New Orleans. For years, the Bush administration has slighted requests to upgrade New Orleans' levees and flood control systems. See this excellent summary article: Did New Orleans Catastrophe Have to Happen? 'Times-Picayune' Had Repeatedly Raised Federal Spending Issues. Rachel Maddow rounds up some of the most critical articles on this topic. Sidney Blumenthal in Salon (get free day pass), notes, "In 2001, FEMA warned that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely disasters in the U.S. But the Bush administration cut New Orleans flood control funding by 44 percent to pay for the Iraq war." With perhaps thousands of New Orleans residents feared dead, the costs of the Iraq war have made the lives of New Orleans residents another casualty:

New Orleans had long known it was highly vulnerable to flooding and a direct hit from a hurricane. In fact, the federal government has been working with state and local officials in the region since the late 1960s on major hurricane and flood relief efforts. When flooding from a massive rainstorm in May 1995 killed six people, Congress authorized the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, or SELA.Over the next 10 years, the Army Corps of Engineers, tasked with carrying out SELA, spent $430 million on shoring up levees and building pumping stations, with $50 million in local aid. But at least $250 million in crucial projects remained, even as hurricane activity in the Atlantic Basin increased dramatically and the levees surrounding New Orleans continued to subside.

Yet after 2003, the flow of federal dollars toward SELA dropped to a trickle. The Corps never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security -- coming at the same time as federal tax cuts -- was the reason for the strain. At least nine articles in the Times-Picayune from 2004 and 2005 specifically cite the cost of Iraq as a reason for the lack of hurricane- and flood-control dollars.

And as Robert Kennedy, Jr., points out, failure to act on global warming and other environmental hazards also plays a major role in the literally rising tide of natural disasters. (Conservative commentator James Glassman dismisses those views, by rounding up a host of seemingly reputable critics of that theory, though. Best bet: a likely contributor, as many scientists say, but not definitively proven yet.)

Here's a comprehensive overview of organizations, such as the Red Cross, helping in this disaster if you want to make a donation or volunteer in other ways.

In any case, Kennedy cites now-Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour's former lobbying efforts in 2001 against limits on carbon dioxide emissions:

“A moment of truth is arriving,” Barbour wrote, “in the form of a decision whether this Administration’s policy will be to regulate and/or tax CO2 as a pollutant. The question is whether environmental policy still prevails over energy policy with Bush-Cheney, as it did with Clinton-Gore.” He derided the idea of regulating CO2 as “eco-extremism,” and chided them for allowing environmental concerns to “trump good energy policy, which the country has lacked for eight years.”

The memo had impact. “It was terse and highly effective, written for people without much time by a person who controls the purse strings for the Republican Party,” said John Walke, a high-ranking air quality official in the Clinton administration.

On March 13, Bush reversed his previous position, announcing he would not back a CO2 restriction using the language and rationale provided by Barbour. Echoing Barbour’s memo, Bush said he opposed mandatory CO2 caps, due to “the incomplete state of scientific knowledge” about global climate change.

Well, the science is clear. This month, a study published in the journal Nature by a renowned MIT climatologist linked the increasing prevalence of destructive hurricanes to human-induced global warming.

Now we are all learning what it’s like to reap the whirlwind of fossil fuel dependence which Barbour and his cronies have encouraged. Our destructive addiction has given us a catastrophic war in the Middle East and--now--Katrina is giving our nation a glimpse of the climate chaos we are bequeathing our children.

Monday, August 29, 2005

How Republican-aided oil company greed helped create hurricanes like Katrina.The Blog | Robert F. Kennedy Jr.: �For They That Sow the Wind Shall Reap the Whirlwind� | The Huffington Post

Friday, August 26, 2005

Constitution brings country to brink of civil war:Iraq constitution talks end in discord - Conflict in Iraq - MSNBC.com Here's the shortest, clearest explanation, drawn from www.theweekmagazine.com, about the different Iraqi factions and the impact of the constitutional struggle. The leading Sunnis in the government object, paving the way for insoluble disputes that could lead to civil war..

Thursday, August 25, 2005

What will a half-trillion dollars and thousands of American and Iraqi deaths get us in Iraq? Another Islamic "Repubic" linked to Iran. Call it "Iran West," as Al Franken jokingly referred to it when he interviewed the author of this detailed, persuasive look at the Iraqi Shiite links to Iran. The New York Review of Books: Iraq: Bush's Islamic Republic

What the Democrats should do: Gary Hart's powerful op-ed. I don't think he's necessarily offered a solid solution to the Iraq crisis, but he's certainly offered a tough-minded look at the cowardice of the Democratic Party in the face of a growing fiasco. Who Will Say 'No More'?

Sunday, August 21, 2005

How to solve the Iraq mess. Larry Diamond, the author of Squandered Victory has some some strong ideas, including declaring that we won't have permanent military bases, setting a time-frame for withdrawal and getting a third-party to help us negotiate with the Sunnis who are dominating the insurgency. Too idealistic? Does anyone have better ideas -- outside of pulling out right now, leaving Iraq to plunge into civil war and become an Iran-affiliated theocracy dedicated to worldwide Jihad. Has America Failed in Iraq? - It's not the U.S. presence that bothers the insurgents, it's the prospect of democracy. By Larry�Diamond�and Dan�Senor

Saturday, August 20, 2005

We don't need no stinkin' Iraq plans! The National Security Archives has posted publicly the warnings State Department officials gave the Defense Department in planning for post-war stability. Of course they were ignored. State Department experts warned CENTCOM before Iraq war about lack of plans for post-war Iraq security

Thursday, August 18, 2005

If you thought Kenneth Tomlinson's rule at CPB was bad, take a look at what happened at VOA. My article is online at the American Prospect.American Prospect Online - ViewWeb

Abramoff's latest indictment could lead to DeLay, Ney.<a href="http://www.detnews.com/2005/politics/0508/18/polit-279310.htm">Abramoff indictment may boost federal probes - 08/13/05

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Gaza Israeli families: the evacuation windfall. The furor over the Gaza pullout has obscured one upside for those families: they'll get between $200,000 to $300,000 each to move. Hardly the actions of a government purportedly indifferent to the fate of the "settlers," or ointerlopers, depending on your point of view.Facts, Figures About Israel's Gaza Pullout - Yahoo! News

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Fake Drudge smear on Cindy Sheehan exposed. The Drudge Report claimed that Cindy Sheehan had earlier praised Bush, now was changing her story because she's a flip-flopping oportunist. You can read the orignal story yourself and see that that he quoted her completely out of context. A typical hatchet-job by the right-wing, as Arianna Huffington points out in her posting, "It takes a Village to Smear Cindy Sheehan." See the original article on Sheehan from last year here: The Reporter - Search

Friday, August 12, 2005

Bush's desperate 9/11/pro-war PR stunt Pentagon announces September 11 concert - World - theage.com.au

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Is the Roberts attack ad false? You be the judge. The Annenberg media-watchers sometimes bend over backwards to appear "balanced," but this might in fact be unfair. NARAL and other progressive groups must satisfy their members by attacking any conservative nominee of Bush, but they should also make sure they don't lose their credibility in the process. NARAL Falsely Accuses Supreme Court Nominee Roberts - FactCheck.org

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Onion parody closer to the truth than news converage. The media coverage of the disastrous energy bill has been largely passive an uncritical, except in some editorial pages. This Onion piece is a welcome corrective to the free pass given Bush on energy. The Onion | Bush Vows To Eliminate U.S. Dependence On Oil By 4920

Was Judy Miller spreading dirt on Wilson? Murray Waas looks closer.American Prospect Online - ViewWeb

All reviews, all the time. As a follower of pop culture, I found this website with round-ups of reputable reviewers and their reviews on books, films and music quite useful.Film Reviews, Music Reviews, Game Reviews, Book Reviews from Metacritic

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