Saturday, June 02, 2007

4 Charged in JFK Airport Terror Plot

Four Muslim men were foiled from carrying out a plot to destroy John F. Kennedy International Airport, kill thousands of people and trigger an economic catastrophe by blowing up a jet fuel artery that runs through populous residential neighborhoods, authorities said Saturday.
The plot, which the men code-named "Chicken Farm," never got past the planning stages, authorities said.

"The devastation that would be caused had this plot succeeded is just unthinkable," U.S. Attorney Roslynn R. Mauskopf said at a news conference, calling it "one of the most chilling plots imaginable."

Despite their "extraordinary efforts," the men never obtained any explosives, authorities said
Is it just me or does it seem that every time the news from Iraq worsens we are hit with some terror plot. This is the second one for the NY area in as many months. The last one targeted Fort Dix in New Jersey and that plot was also just in the planning stages. I hate to be cynical but at this point I am very skeptical of any terror plots. Remember how many times the terror level was raised as we approached the 2004 election?

British General Says There Is No Way To Win The War In Iraq

A former British army commander has said there was "no way" the war in Iraq could be won and that allied forces should withdraw.
General Sir Michael Rose, a former commander of the UN peace force in Bosnia during the 1990s, said the American and British forces in Iraq were in an impossible situation.

"There is no way we are going to win the war and (we should) withdraw and accept defeat because we are going to lose on a more important level if we don't," he said.
The Bush administration will never admit defeat. The problem with this war from the start was the that it should have never been fought. There were other ways to remove Saddam Hussein if that was indeed ever the true goal. You have to really wonder how all the supposed best military brains in the world could have got this so wrong or was the goal permanent occupation?

He said Iraq should have, in any case, been a low priority compared to the war in Afghanistan, various conflicts in Africa and the war against global terrorists.
General Pope correctly sees the War in Iraq as separate from the "war on terror". There are many brutal dictators throughout the world yet we either do nothing or support them politically. Why was Saddam different? I think the answer is that those other dictators are not sitting on the third largest oil reserves in the world. Is that a cynical view? Yes it is, but this administration has done nothing to dispel that feeling amongst many in the world. There is no winning this war and our options for the future are all bad. We must get out and let the people of Iraq sort out the mess that we have made of their country.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Friday Economic News

As usual Friday is the day that the government puts out all sorts of economic reports. The big headlines for the day:

Incomes see first drop In two years.
U.S. incomes fell surprisingly by 0.1 percent in April, the first drop in almost two years, but core consumer prices - a key measure of inflation - inched up a less-than-expected 0.1 percent, a Commerce Department report showed Friday.
May job growth stronger than expected but still not very good.
There was a net gain of 157,000 jobs in the month, up from the revised 80,000-job gain in April. Economists surveyed by had forecast that there would be a 135,000 gain in employment in May.

The unemployment rate stayed at 4.5 percent, the same as in April and in-line with economist forecasts.
The manufacturing sector lost an additional 19,000 jobs as our manufacturing base is further decimated. The one thing to remember is that the economy needs to add 150,000 jobs per month to keep up with new people entering the job market. The unemployment rate does not include those that have stopped looking for a job or are under-employed. Under the Clinton administration the economy added 22,000,000 jobs or 229,000 per month. Under the Bush administration the economy has added 5,360,000 jobs in 77 months for an average of 69,610.00 per month. This is one of the major reasons that the middle class is in decline and savings rates are at depression era levels. Our economy is strong for companies and the shareholders that control them. For the rest of us life is not quite as rosy.

US Death Toll At Least 122 in May

May was the third deadliest month for American troops since the start of the war.

At least 122 U.S. soldiers were killed in May throughout Iraq as the surge reached its peak. Violence continued unabated and the quagmire that is Iraq continued to drain the national treasury.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

822,000 Iraqi´s Displaced Within Iraq

According to a report released on Sunday by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), an estimated 822,810 Iraqis are now displaced within their country.
Muhammad Abdul-Yassin, 39, was forced to leave his home nine months ago after continuous fighting near his home and being targeting by militias. He said he had to change his place of residence more than four times.

“There are no safe places in Iraq. Militants or insurgents find you wherever you are,” Abdul-Yassin said.

“Each time we arrived in a new camp, dozens of other families arrived with us. Most of the places are full to bursting and some of the displaced families are forced to sleep rough on the ground without tents until aid agencies can give them some protection and food. In the camp where we are staying now, we were forced to sleep in the open air for three days and drink dirty water because the aid agencies couldn’t reach us,” he said.
Lets put this in perspective. Iraq´s population was roughly 25 million before the war while the US population is roughly 300 million. That means that 9.8 million Americans would need to be forced from their homes to equal the percentage of Iraqis forced from their homes. That would be the entire cities of Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Dallas.

Still think the war was a good idea? Now ask yourself how you would feel if China came to our shores and the fighting caused all those people to flee. What would you think of China? Now you know what the people of Iraq think of us. Also remember these are the people displaced WITHIN IRAQ. That does not iclude the 2 million that have fled the country all together.

Is Joe Lieberman Insane?

Senator Joe Lieberman made a visit to Iraq and reported great progress. Is he aware that the casualty count for May will be the third highest since the start of the war? If that is progress what constitutes failure?

See him shopping at a local Iraqi market. I guess a flack jacket and helmet are the new fashionable attire for a day of shopping in the hot Iraqi sun. It must be some new form of weight control craze that just hasn't made it to our shores.

Joe Lieberman lost his primary in Connecticut due to his delusions about Iraq. Unfortunately the Republicans of Connecticut along with some very uninformed Democrats chose to send him back to the Senate as an independent instead of out to pasture where he truly belongs. I hope after the 2008 elections he will become completely irrelevant until he can finally be replaced in 2012.

As Lieberman walked out, he said that congressionally mandated withdrawal would be a "victory for al Qaeda and a victory for Iran."
What he neglects to say is that al Qaeda was not in Iraq before the war and that Iran is emboldened as a result of this war.

Fred Thompson To Join Republican Field

Fred Thompson will run for President.

The former Senator from Tennessee and current actor will form an exploratory committee to test the waters for a Presidential run. He is already polling third amongst Republicans before he even announced his intention to run.

I anticipate this announcement will be the beginning of the end of the Giuliani Campaign who was seen as the best hope of defeating the Democrats in 2008. This announcement will change all that.

Will We Be in Iraq For 50 Years?

President Bush sees our involvement in Korea as the model for our future in Iraq.
President Bush envisions a long-term U.S. troop presence in Iraq similar to the one in South Korea where American forces have helped keep an uneasy peace for more than 50 years, the White House said Wednesday.
Can you imagine the cost in lives and dollars for such an insane proposal? We are not viewed as occupiers by the people of South Korea but would be viewed as such by both the Sunni and Shiite populations of Iraq. Instead of looking at South Korea as a model for long term involvement you need to instead look at the Palestinian Territories. In September, when new war funding comes before Congress, we must demand a timetable for withdrawal. It is obvious that this administration doesn't just plan to pass this disaster off to the next President. They are planning to pass this disaster off to the next generation.

Nigerian State Files Criminal Suit Against Pfizer

Pfizer being investigated for using children as guinea pigs
The state government alleges Pfizer selected children and infants from crowds at a makeshift epidemic camp and gave about half of the group Trovan, which it says was untested at the time.
If this is true it validates every suspicion that people have about big pharmaceutical companies. Profits come before safety or ethics.
The Washington Post newspaper in the United States said it obtained internal Pfizer records that showed five children died after being treated with Trovan. However, "there is no indication in the documents that the drug was responsible for the deaths. Six children died while taking the comparison drug," the paper said.
Clinical trials are necessary for all drugs and I support that process. Using an unapproved drug on children in a poor country is a disgrace. If this allegation is true those involved should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of Nigerian law.

GDP Slowest Since 2002

Are we heading for recession.
The economy grew at its slowest pace since 2002 in the first three months of the year, according to a government report Thursday that was weaker than Wall Street expectations.

The Commerce Department's gross domestic product report, the broadest measure of the nation's economic activity, showed an annual growth rate of 0.6 percent in the first quarter. That's down from its initial estimate of 1.3 percent growth.

The nation's economy grew at its slowest pace since the end of 2002 in the first quarter.
Economists surveyed by had forecast the growth rate would slow to 0.8 percent.
The National Bureau of Economic Research defines a recession as "a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months." According to this definition and the slowing growth rate are we already slipping into recession?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Another Country Found Adding Melamine To Exports

Read this post on Daily Kos

The FDA is failing us miserably and its time for action. This agency has been decimated during the past six years and our health is at stake because of it.

U.S. Government Fights To Keep Meatpackers From Testing All Slaughtered Cattle For Mad Cow

How many people were aware that less than 1% of all cows are tested for mad cow disease, which is fatal.

One company wants to test its entire herd for the disease and is being fought by the Agriculture Department. Why would the federal government want to fight this advance in public safety?
The Agriculture Department regulates the test and argued that widespread testing could lead to a false positive that would harm the meat industry.

A federal judge ruled in March that such tests must be allowed. U.S. District Judge James Robertson noted that Creekstone sought to use the same test the government relies on and said the government didn't have the authority to restrict it. - A federal judge ruled in March that such tests must be allowed. The ruling was scheduled to take effect June 1, but the Agriculture Department said Tuesday it would appeal, effectively delaying the testing until the court challenge has played out.
What the federal government is saying is that big business is more important than guaranteeing your safety. Soon eating will become like playing Russian Roulette. I will stay on top of this story.

More Gay Linguists Fired

Arab linguists that are so desperately needed by the Pentagon are being fired for being gay under the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy.

Do you still believe that our security is their first priority? Our government is being run by a bunch of religious wackos. There are only 6 people in our Iraqi Embassy in Baghdad that speak fluent Arabic. On September 10, 2001 a message came in that would have alerted authorities to the plot of 911 but was not translated until after 911 due to the lack of Arab linguists.
Democratic Rep. Marty Meehan, who has pushed for repeal of the law, organized the letter sent to Skelton requesting a hearing into the Arab linguist issue.

"At a time when our military is stretched to the limit and our cultural knowledge of the Middle East is dangerously deficient, I just can't believe that kicking out able, competent Arabic linguists is making our country any safer," Meehan said.
It is time that our government is run by sensible people who have the interests of all Americans at heart.

Nasa: 10 Years To Climate Tipping Point

I am sure that this report from NASA will make Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe´s head explode.

Senator Inhofe is one of those that say Global Warming is a myth. Now that NASA has weighed in on this subject with this neanderthal finally take his head out of his ass and do something? I doubt it. Thankfully Barbara Boxer now heads the Environment and Public Works Committee.

Climate change is real and needs action immediately before there is no turning back from what would be the largest catastrophe in world history.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Rules Hiding Trillions In Debt

The Federal Government is using Enron like accounting practicies to hide trillions in debt.
The federal government recorded a $1.3 trillion loss last year — far more than the official $248 billion deficit — when corporate-style accounting standards are used, a USA TODAY analysis shows.

The loss reflects a continued deterioration in the finances of Social Security and government retirement programs for civil servants and military personnel. The loss — equal to $11,434 per household — is more than Americans paid in income taxes in 2006.

"We're on an unsustainable path and doing a great disservice to future generations," says Chris Chocola, a former Republican member of Congress from Indiana and corporate chief executive who is pushing for more accurate federal accounting.
Do you still feel like the richest country on earth? Our national debt has the capability of destroying the middle class and turning the United States into Argentina. When will the American people demand that our financial house be put in order?