Saturday, August 12, 2006

Aurora from orbit over earth Posted by Picasa
Red Alert: Bush Endangers Us All

Everything essential about the meaning for us of the uncovered terrorist plot in England to set off bombs on airliners is in this paragragh, by Marc Ash:

What worked in foiling the plot to destroy the airliners was good old fashioned police work and a solid investigation. Not military action. The tools used by British authorities are tools that were available on September 11th 2001. They were available the day the US invaded Iraq, and they are available today. We have always had good tools to safeguard our security. Launching massive invasions is not helping, it's adding to the rage that fuels the madness.

But the U.S. of Bush has not taken this approach. It declared war on the concept of terrorism and invaded Iraq. To date all of the alleged conspirators were British citizens, some of them apparently having never been outside the country, let alone in, say, Iraq.

Nor have the Bushites effectively anticipated such attacks as the British stymied. In a front page article Saturday, the New York Times began: The Department of Homeland Security has taken significant steps since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to make it much harder to turn a plane into a flying weapon. But a nearly obsessive focus on the previous attacks may have prevented the federal government from combating new threats effectively, terrorism experts and former agency officials say.

The nation is still at risk from the same “failure of imagination” cited by the 9/11 commission as having contributed to the success of the 2001 attack, several argued.

For example, the kind of explosives this plot was supposed to use, and now responsible for millions of flyers going without liquids, was a problem that security experts isolated years ago but the Bushites have done nothing about, according to former CIA analyst Larry Johnson.

The New York Times editorial on Saturday begins: The most frightening thing about the foiled plot to use liquid explosives to blow up airplanes over the Atlantic is that both the government and the aviation industry have been aware of the liquid bomb threat for years but have done little to prepare for it.

Now we learned according to the Associated Press that: While the British terror suspects were hatching their plot, the Bush administration was quietly seeking permission to divert $6 million that was supposed to be spent this year developing new homeland explosives detection technology. This failure is so blatant that even some of the Rubber Stamp Republicans in Congress rebelled. Homeland Security's research arm, called the Sciences & Technology Directorate, is a "rudderless ship without a clear way to get back on course," Republican and Democratic senators on the Appropriations Committee declared recently. "The committee is extremely disappointed with the manner in which S&T is being managed within the Department of Homeland Security," the panel wrote June 29 in a bipartisan report accompanying the agency's 2007 budget.

The terrifying conclusion? In a separate AP article: After two wars, thousands of deaths and many billions of dollars, the United States is still vulnerable to terrorists. That painful reality has ignited a political frenzy over who's to blame and who's best qualified to protect Americans. The one thing that Republicans and Democrats agree on is this: Five years after the Sept. 11 disaster, terrorists want to strike again and the country is not safe. To hear both sides talk, the wonder is that America hasn't been hit yet.

Incompetence is way too weak a word to describe the Bushite approach to terrorism. Homeland Security is rife with quantified corruption and failure. To compound the threat rather than diminishing it, Bushite foreign policy failures have done everything any Islamacist terrorist could dream of, and more. The Middle East is more aroused against the U.S. and the West than ever before, provoked by our wanton destruction of Iraq, profiteering and criminal behavior as well as killing.

The latest debacle involving Israel has provoked anger which is bound to increase terrorism against Americans and allies. As Helen Thomas writes in her devastating analysis of Condi Rice's recent failures: Retired Army Lt. Gen. William Odom recently zeroed in on a fundamental truth about the Hezbollah-Israel war when he said U.S. policies in Iraq "opened the door for Iran and Syria to support Hezbollah." The U.S. presence in Iraq has had a "radicalizing impact" in the region, Odom recently wrote.

Bush and his minions are not only intent on destroying the future. They're going to make this a much nastier present. Immediately after the British plot was revealed, the Bushites tried to play the terror card again in a Republican fundraising appeal. The only way to make America safer is to get some accountability in Congress, and the only way to do that is to elect Democrats in November.
When Will We Ever Learn?

No more poignant a question was asked in the 1960s, when we were children. It was a refrain of "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" that spoke specifically to concerns about the nuclear arms race and later Vietnam. But as we repeat the tragic blunders of Vietnam in stupifying detail, we experience again the resulting insanity at home, familiar from the 1960s. And for many older than us, from the 1950s as well.

continued at 60's Now

Friday, August 11, 2006

then it turns out, the future is being decided on Earth... Posted by Picasa

The Climate Crisis

This Week in the Battle for the Future

This past week, Dreaming Up Daily received an email from Marc Morano, Communications Director of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) Majority Staff, demanding correction of an unspecified report here on the Science Magazine article claiming that no peer reviewed articles by climatologists dispute the existence of the Climate Crisis. In other words, that the people who are conducting specific research on the aspects of the climate all agree that the Climate Crisis exists, which implies that if fossil fuel greenhouse gases continue unabated, it will get much worse.

The email cites alleged flaws in the original article by Naomi Oreskes, and failure to address them in the author's recent oped piece. But the charges the Republican flack makes repeat the arguments in the Wall Street Journal article (debunked in detail here) that prompted Oreskes oped. It also distorts the National Academy of Sciences, claiming it had refuted climate crisis evidence when in fact it said plainly that "most of the observed warming of the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations."

What's going on here? Why do these Republicans feel compelled to politicize a critical problem that should be the business of all humankind to address?

It's a mystery, maybe. But sometimes the crime is committed by one of the usual suspects. For instance, last week, Bonner Cohen , a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research, claimed on C-Span that (as reported by Think Progress): the “vast majority” of climatologists are “agnostic” on global warming. Bonner explained that meant they weren’t convinced “there is a causal relationship between emissions of greenhouse gases and [warming] the climate.”

Such a statement is mind-boggling. To question evidence or methodology of some study, even to distort studies by selective use of statistics and graphs, is all pretty standard technique. But to state with a straight face such a huge lie--nobody would get away with that in high school debate. Not only Oreskes study but the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change makes it clear to everyone (including TIME, Newsweek, ABC News, etc.) that most if not all climatologists are dead convinced--even those who were skeptical a decade ago. But apparently this is how this country is being run, and the world's future is being destroyed.

And indeed, (Think Progress reports), when a caller to C-Span's National Journal challenged Cohen to name one--just ONE--climatologist who wasn't convinced the Climate Crisis is real, he couldn't do it. He went from asserting a VAST MAJORITY to being unable to name ONE.

As for the "usual suspects," when Think Progress claimed that Cohen's group was "paid by the fossil fuel industry to distort the facts about global warming and other environmental issues," the group claimed libel, though Think Progress claims that Cohen himself admitted to fossil fuel industry related financing, on the air.


The huge ice cap that covers Greenland is melting faster than ever before on record, three times faster than just five years ago. The consequence is already evident in a small but ominous rise in sea levels around the world, a pace that is also accelerating, the scientists say.

The most powerful typhoon to hit China in 50 years killed more than a hundred people, demolished 50,000 homes and displaced a million and a half people. Winds topped 170 mph. It was the second killer typhoon in a week. The previous one killed 80 people.

The "Dead Zone" in the Pacific off the northern U.S. coast is larger than originally thought. Oregon State University scientists looking for weather changes that could reverse the situation aren't finding them, and they say levels of dissolved oxygen critical to marine life are the lowest since the first dead zone was identified in 2002. It has returned every year. The Dead Zone starves oxygen from the water and has led to the dieoff of crabs and fish. Scientists have linked the phenomenon to the Climate Crisis.

But if Climate Crisis deniers and their enablers in big money energy and the decadent right wing Republican party are fighting furiously against dealing with problems that are destroying the future, others are taking action without them. The Washington Post is the latest to report this:

With Washington lawmakers deadlocked on how best to curb global warming, state and local officials across the country are adopting ambitious policies and forming international alliances aimed at reducing greenhouse gases.

The initiatives, which include demands that utilities generate some of their energy using renewable sources and mandates for a reduction in emissions from motor vehicles, have emboldened clean-air advocates who hope they will form the basis for broader national action.

This has the additional benefit of putting pressure on big companies to seek federal mandates because dealing with separate regulations in various places can be more expensive. Still, state and local experiments can test what works best, at least in the short run. It's still a process fraught with danger and frustration, without the national leadership to build a consensus of seriousness, so that there is accountability, and attempts to paper over regulations that are designed to be ineffective with clever names can be stopped before they start.

It's way past time to get serious about this, beyond greed and politics.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

water crystal. Photo by Emoto. Posted by Picasa
The Future of Water is the Future of Life

Ten writers volunteered to post at Booman Tribune on each of the topics on the UN's list of ten most underreported stories. This was my contribution (shortened a bit.)

Water is not just necessary for life. Water is life. Our planet is mostly made of it and so are we--one species of intelligent aliens identified us as "ugly bags of mostly water." (Bonus points to the comment that correctly identifies the source.)

We grow up knowing the simple formula for water: H2O. Yet for all our vaunted science and technology, we have no idea how to make it. Our science knows a few things about it, but we don't know really what water is.

We can't build or manufacture or create water. Our lives depend on the water that exists, that our earth as a complex system provides. Water is in many ways the basis of civilization, and how water is shared is a primary creator and medium of culture. But as the world's fresh water is increasingly threatened by what the modern world has done to the planet, water again becomes a test of our civilization and our future. For many, it already is. For the rest of us, it soon will be.

(continued after illustration)

90% of the world's fresh water is in Antarctica
in the form of ice. Posted by Picasa

Right now more than a billion people don't have access to safe drinking water. Water-related diseases are the leading cause of death in the world, and are responsible for 80% of all the sicknesses.

According to the World Resources Institute, some 41% of the world's population-- or 2.3 billion people- "live in river basins under 'water stress,' meaning they are subject to frequent water shortages. Some 1.7 billion of these people live in `highly stressed' water basins where problems with local food production and economic development abound."

The world's fresh water supply has been diminishing for centuries, due to chemical pollution from industries, and bacterial pollution from human and animal waste. Among the nations that currently have serious water problems are India, Bangladesh, Kenya, Ethiopia and Honduras. The World Bank predicts that by 2025, two-thirds of the world's population will suffer from lack of clean and safe drinking water.The United Nations General Assembly recognized the extent of the problem by declaring the years 2005 to 2015 as the International Decade for Action, "Water for Life."

Now the current distribution of the world's fresh water, and ultimately the systems that support all water in the world, are threatened by the Climate Crisis. Droughts will be larger and longer. But even when more rain falls it will end up meaning less water: warmer temperatures mean moisture will fall earlier as rain rather than snow, which slowly melts into the land; warmer seas, etc. mean the normal rainfall is dumped in big storms, in a time too short for the land to absorb and hold it.

We are likely already seeing the first Climate Crisis war in Darfur, where "increasing drought cycles and the Sahara's southward expansion" created conflicts between nomadic and urban groups over water and land.

Deserts are rapidly expanding in Africa and Asia, as the land is ravaged of forests and vegetation, a situation that the Climate Crisis is unlikely to improve.

Desalinization to turn abundant sea water into fresh water was once believed to be the cure-all, but it turns out to have many problems, one of which is the cost and amount of energy required. So we mostly depend on the fresh water that exists in the world.

Another possible problem looms, however: privatization of water delivery systems and water supplies. Huge corporations are now busy buying up water reserves with the aim of selling it as bottled water or in bulk shipments, and they are already using their clout to lower water quality standards. (The aforementioned World Bank is backing some of these companies.)

One has to assume that companies buying up systems and resources are out to make a profit, and know that as water gets scarcer, they are in position to hold the biggest gun to the head of the public ever conceived. It could make "Urinetown" look like a socialist utopia.

Water, goes the glib cliché, will be the new oil. But try drinking oil when the water runs out. Human beings can survive without a trip to WalMart indefinitely. But without water, we are all dead within days.

A cystalline lifeform sees humans as "ugly bags of mostly water."
From ST Next Generation's first season episode, "Home Soil."
Photo from TrekCore. Posted by Picasa

The Climate Crisis solutions are obvious if complex (basically the two part fix it and stop it I've been advocating)but that's not precisely the specific kind of water story on the UN's underreported list. They are talking about solutions now, in the "fix it" phase of the Climate Crisis, as well as for the many other reasons for water shortages, such as pollution, overpopulation, deforestation and poor management.

Knowing how vital water is, its simple to assume that the attempted solution would most likely be war. And that's been tried--something like 7 wars in modern times are attributed to fighting over water. But you may be surprised to know that historically this has not often been the case. Water sharing has been far more common than water conflict becoming violent, or so the scholars say:

Aaron Wolf, a leading authority on the politics of water, makes a compelling case that unlike diamonds, oil, and land, the demand for water resources does not promote conflict. Historical records and data from over 400 fresh-water agreements decidedly demonstrate more cooperation than conflict.[3] Many scholars share Wolf's view that water is a resource "whose characteristics tend to induce cooperation and incite violence only in exception," resulting in water-sharing treaties that are "creative, resilient, and manage to transcend other conflicts.

If this is so, we perhaps owe it to traditions begun in more civilized times, if you take civilized to mean when cultures recognized their dependence on nature and each other. People in particular who live with scarcity and drought have integrated cooperation into their traditional cultures. One such culture is the Gabra, as described in the landmark book Millenium: Tribal Wisdom and the Modern World by David Marbury-Lewis (he is the founder of the organization Cultural Survival.)

The Gabra live in the Chalbi Desert area now in Kenya, and have a longstanding tradition of lending camels, their most precious and sacred possession, to others who are in need because of drought. This even extends to people outside their own culture: "They will also lend them to outsiders in time of dire need. During the last, particularly vicious drought they lent many camels to the neighboring Boran. In fact, many Boran came to live with the Gabra during those difficult times."

This is not only a deeply felt obligation, it is a relationship that offers protection, for the recipients take on the obligation of helping others in need when they are able, and specifically to help those who helped them. "Whether the lending is between Gabra and Boran, or among the Gabra themselves, the ties created along the lending paths endure for generations, and a herder must therefore know the genealogy of his animals so as to know to whom he is indebted."

Still,there are some modern precedents. The UN site on the topic notes:

With world demand for water increasing six-fold over the 20th century, there was no let-up in disputes over transboundary water issues, prompting some experts to predict that the wars of the 21st century will be fought over water. While freshwater's propensity to strain relations among countries frequently makes headlines, the other side of the coin - water as an agent of cooperation - rarely gets sufficient attention. Nevertheless, research has shown much more historical evidence of water playing the role of a catalyst for cooperation, rather than a trigger of conflict. There are examples of workable accords on water reached even by States that were in conflict over other matters, including the cases of India and Pakistan, and Israel and Jordan.

Which brings us to one of the stories the UN has highlighted: Lake Titicaca which is partly in Bolivia and partly in Peru. Using the technical sophistication of the World Water Assessment Program and a planning process aided by the European Community, these two nations created a common Autonomous Water Authority (known as ALT) to manage water use for agriculture, electricity generation and drinking water and sanitation.

Focusing on water use has led to analyses of the local economy and in particular highlighted the need to improve public health. There are substantial remaining problems. The area is still subject to sudden flooding which is likely to get worse.

But the combined authority has some important accomplishments: new floodgates, dredging of the Desaguadero River, new sewage treatment facilities, and the beginnings of a cooperative biodiversity conservation program by the governments of Bolivia and Peru, and the United Nations . It has in turn become a model for similar large-scale situations.

One notable achievement: Indigenous cultures and populations have become part of the decision-making process, and Native communities are planned to be participants in the biodiversity conservation program. There is often conflict between contemporary governments, advised by international banks and their globalized economists, and the cultures that have been living the natural environment for thousands of years. Their traditions often embody the knowledge appropriate to the local environment and the natural economy that outsiders miss.

It's obviously a complex set of problems, that will be at the center of things for a long time. If it's a bit too much to take in all at once, perhaps you should take a couple of aspirins, or the pain reliever of your choice. With a nice drink of water, of course.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Aurora as seen from the international space station. Posted by Picasa

The Daily Babble

Around the Blogosphere

To refresh your memories, "Diary rescue" at Daily Kos is a relatively new feature--one of the frontpage posters (SusanG) and others in her crew review the hundreds of diaries (commentaries) submitted each day--and I do mean hundreds--to choose a dozen or so that didn't get on the recommended list and therefore slipped from sight before a lot of people knew they existed. This is a price of Dkos' success--so many diaries, so little time. It's particularly tough on posts of any length, since it may take people as long to read them as they will appear in the "new diary" list.

Anyway, my last two posts there have been each given a second life. "Wars Within Wars," a Vietnam era memoir (also posted with photos on 60's Now) was at the top of the rescued with these words: "Captain Future's Wars Within Wars is a beautifully written personal account of a war four decades ago that foisted philosophical distinctions about moral and immoral wars on an entire generation. Highly recommended."

Dkos is by far the largest community blog on my side of the spectrum, and one of the largest overall on the Internet--it has more readers than some cable news channels have viewers. So words like that led to a lot of new readers, both there and at 60's Now, and to a number of new comments, some with their own personal stories about that time, which are worth reading whether or not you've read the original post. There were some interesting comments when it was briefly frontpaged and then on the recommended list at Booman Tribune.

Some of the stories about experiences of others regarding Vietnam and the draft in the late 60s and early 70s are truly heartrending and hair-raising. But the one that struck me the most was this from dkos: "We all went through variations of this. But I notice as great a reluctance among my cohort to discuss what we did during Vietnam as I did among my father and uncles who fought in WWII."

That had not occurred to me. I thought of my generation as loudmouths already boring the young with our stories. Perhaps he meant only vets but I don't think so. So maybe this was worthwhile.

A version of one of Sunday's posts here (actually more like the one on 60's Now) eventually called After Hiroshima Terror Is What Bombing Is For was high on the dkos rescue list Monday. Those comments are still coming in as I write this, but again they're interesting--this time for the additional sources and points of view on the efficacy and morality of bombing civilians and cities. There are a number of such comments as well at E Pluribus Media, where it was frontpaged, and the European Tribune, where it was on the recommended list.

The site I often go to first for the day's political news is Taegan Goddard's Political Wire. Amongst the inside baseball info and pundit temperature-taking that constitutes the daily political dialogue, there are nuggets to be mined. Some days are better than others. Monday was pretty interesting. For these...

From pollster John Zogby: "Joe Lieberman will probably go down in defeat by a substantial margin on Tuesday. While some bloggers have listed multiple reasons for the loss in confidence among Connecticut voters, it is all about Iraq. This election cycle is all about Iraq. 2004 was all about Iraq and the Democrats were afraid to take a stand less they appear to flip-flip on a war they supported. But this time around, the statistics are staggering: only 16% of Democrats and 26% of Independents think the war has been worth the loss in American lives. Lieberman's dogged support for the Bush war policy has isolated him from rank and file voters."

On young adults view of Bush: A Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times poll of Americans age 18 to 24 found President Bush's approval rating was just 20%, with 53% disapproving and 28% with no opinion.

On Hillary Clinton's high negatives: Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) has very high negatives in American Research Group focus groups of New Hampshire voters, the Boston Herald reports. In fact, in 30 years of survey research, pollster Dick Bennett says "heÂ’s never before seen so many N.H. voters show so much hatred toward a member of their own party. HeÂ’s never even seen anything close." Says Bennett: "Forty-five percent of the Democrats are just as negative about her as Republicans are. More Republicans dislike her, but the Democrats dislike her in the same way.

On the Democrats' chances of winning control of the Senate, hinging on Tennessee: "Time profiles Rep. Harold Ford, Jr.Â’s (D-TN) campaign to succeed Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN) as the next senator from Tennessee: "Although Tennessee has not sent a Democrat to the Senate since Al Gore won re-election in 1990, the race is starting to look far closer than just about anyone would have expected a few months ago. And with Democrats leading in the five other states that are considered their best opportunities to pick up Senate seats this fall -- Pennsylvania, Montana, Rhode Island, Ohio and Missouri -- it is conceivable that a victory by Ford could give them the sixth one that they need to take back control of the chamber."

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Our sun. That black dot on the left is the planet Venus. Posted by Picasa

The Dreaming Up Daily Quote

"Throughout history, the really fundamental changes in societies have come about not from dictates of governments and the results of battles but through vast numbers of people changing their minds ­ sometimes only a little bit . . . By deliberately changing the internal image of reality, people can change the world. Perhaps the only limits to the human mind are those we believe in."

Willis Harman
The Real Terrorism

On August 6, 1945, Hiroshima was destroyed by the first atomic bomb used in warfare. As Norman Solomon recently reminds us, this immense explosion was followed by an immense lie. On August 9th, President Truman told the Amercan people: “The world will note that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a military base. That was because we wished in this first attack to avoid, in so far as possible, the killing of civilians.” Solomon continues:

Actually, the U.S. government went out of its way to select Japanese cities of sufficient size to showcase the extent of the A-bomb’s deadly power -- in Hiroshima on Aug. 6 and in Nagasaki on Aug. 9. As a result of those two bombings, hundreds of thousands of civilians died, immediately or eventually. If Truman’s conscience had been clear, it’s doubtful he would have felt compelled to engage in such a basic distortion at the dawn of the nuclear era.

In fact, Hiroshima had no military significance, and had not been bombed before--one of the principal reasons it was chosen for the A-bomb, so its destructive power would be more obvious to the Japanese and clearer for Americans studying those effects. It was considered a "safe city" to the extent that some parents in California who were forced into internment camps, sent their children to the safety of Hiroshima. So the victims of the U.S. atomic bomb likely included American children.

Truman's was the first of many lies of the nuclear era, including the initial lies about the effects of radiation. Some 75,000 people died in Hiroshima from the blast and fire of the Bomb. Five years later, radiation effects more than doubled the dead, to some 200,000. The vast majority of those who died from the Nagasaki bomb were from radiation, months and years later.

But the biggest lie is not about the atomic bomb, but the very practice of bombing. The facts show (as described in Sven Lindqvist's A History of Bombing and Gerard DeGroot's The Bomb: A Life, among other works) that the effect of bombing cities is not a strategy of war but a strategy of terror, and that it doesn't work.

The idea of this kind of bombing is not to kill enemy combatants or destroy military bases, but to destroy the population's will by terrorizing them with the threat of random death and destruction. Although the idea of this kind of bombing is now apparently acceptable, it is relatively new in the history of warfare. While many nations experimented with it, especially imperial powers who bombed restless colonies, it was first used as a policy by the British in World War II in Germany. It did not result in a revolt of the German people against its government. The U.S. followed in its bombing campaign against Japan, at first aimed at military and industrial support targets, but eventually using saturation bombing against cities. It was the failure of this campaign to terrorize the Japanese population into submission that led to the decision to use the atomic bomb.

As Gerard DeGroot points out, when We (whoever We are) drop bombs, it is to destroy the enemy's capability to fight--the logic that says if you are going to destroy the enemy's tanks, then destroy the factories that build the tanks, and kill the people who work in those factories. But when They bomb Us, using the same logic, it is brutal, indiscriminate killing. "The difference is contrived--a matter of perspective. Indiscriminate bombing means killing civilians for the sake of attrition--the killing is the object."
But it isn't only attrition, and in less than the kind of total war that World War II was, it is more obviously aimed at terrorizing the enemy population. Hezbollah fires bombs into Israel to terrorize the population, hoping to eventually win concessions or ultimately to destroy the state of Israel. Israel fires bombs into Lebanon to destroy rocket implacements but also to terrorize the population into not supporting Hezbollah, either by allowing them to operate out of their neighborhoods or by supporting them politically. The strategy in both cases is the attrition of terror.

Argument on the morality of targeting civilians in war go back hundreds of years. All too ironically, the first known code that forbade the killing of non-combatants was promulgated by Abu Hanifa, a legal scholar in Baghdad. Western powers adopted a double standard: war between "civilized" European nations would be conducted in this civilized manner. But war against lesser peoples was total war, against the population as well as combatants. Primitive people were not only lesser, but more easily frightened by western technology's advances in explosives and methods of delivering them. World War II ended even these distinctions.

Now bombing is normal, and far from being the last resort, it is often the first option. Nations use it now because it is cheaper, and since no troops are endangered, there is no grumbling at home about the loss of life. Bombs of all kinds constitute a thriving business. In use, they have a very brief productive life before it's time to buy more. And there's plenty to chose from. Small groups can plant various kinds of bombs along roads or in parked vehicles, or use suicide bombers. Larger organizations can use bombs attached to small rockets. Nations can use bombs with sophisticated targetting capabilities, launched on rockets or fired from ships or dropped from airplanes. Long range missiles with thermonuclear weapons are still pointed at the U.S. and Russia.

From the smallest to the largest-yield weapons, bombs are instruments of terror. They sever the limbs of children, burn babies alive, destroy homes that send families into a tailspin of poverty, wreck the urban infrastructure that makes daily life possible, and send millions of traumatized people wandering into nightmare through the piles of broken homes and schools and hospitals, shards of bone, crushed bodies, smoldering flesh, hot twisted metal and clouds of toxic smoke, because they are supposed to. This is what bombs are for.

Senator John Kerry at the funeral of a Marine from Massachusetts
killed in Iraq, at Arlington National Cemetary. Senator Ted
Kennedy was there, too. A reminder that the bloodshed in
Iraq goes on, regardless of where CNN and Fox train their cameras. Posted by Picasa

The Climate Crisis

See It, Stop It. No? No Future.

This summer you've very likely felt global heating. One of these days soon, you may be able to see it.

According to Bill Blakemore at ABC News, "Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder have now figured out how to project the computer predictions -- which used to be just rows of numbers -- in the form of changing colors on a 5-foot sphere with the continents outlined on it. A number of these spheres are now being installed in museums around the United States and the world, so the world can see what it's in for. "

Climate scientists are now using new huge supercomputers, much more powerful than the computers used in the 1980s which accurately predicted the heating we're experiencing. This imaging system has color-coded the globe, showing it turn over time to an all-yellow alert in 2001, which was warming, to an all-red U.S. in 2051--the heating.

Blakemore also writes about the first video showing methane upwellings in the ocean. Methane is a major greenhouse gas, and if the deep reserves are released from the permafrost because of melting and now from the ocean because of warmer water, it would push the heating past the tipping point. He summarizes:
A number of scientists tell me that would take the Earth up into temperatures humankind has never experienced -- and probably could not survive.

They believe it's happened for natural reasons before -- before, for example, the Jurassic age, when dinosaurs, but no humans, roamed the earth. That's why they insist we must stop the unnatural burning of fossil fuels -- oil, coal and gas -- which risks giving such a methane mega-burp an artificial kick that could -- hard as this is to take in -- end civilization.

He ends with a little counseling
: Small doses are the best way to take in such news. Psychologists tell us that a little denial when facing truly frightening news can, at first, be a good thing. It helps us hold ourselves together in face of the threat, helps keep our "meaning systems" intact. As long as we keep working back towards reality.

No child wants to think it can harm the basic wellbeing of a protective parent who provides its only world. They can't even believe they could do such a thing. Climate scientists are telling us we are doing just that to our own Mother Earth, and we should believe it.

Soul of Star Trek

Soul of Star Trek is maintaining its revival in terms of numbers of visitors. New on the site: Musings on the announced next movie and how it may handle the Star Trek future, A Modest Proposal for the Next Generation, and news on Trek XI site, fan films & fictions. All at Soul of Star Trek.