Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

New Footage from MERCURY!

The imaging of Mercury began in 1970 with the Mariner missions, a project that was successful in documenting 45% of the planet's surface. NASA's Messenger spacecraft has captured an additional 45%, as shown in this striking photo. The planet is shown in double - actual coloration and a the output of 11 color filters.

Even more amazing, check out this clip - actual footage from the planet Mercury!

Its so surreal, especially getting this footage seemingly out of the blue at a time when everything is going so crazy in the world right now. If this were all a movie, the scrolling view of the planetary surface would suddenly reveal either a black monolith, an alien missile base or Jesus Christ himself taking a final rest break before rolling on down to Earth to reveal the end of the human race as we know it.

Read all about it at Wired Science!

Weekly Reader Poll

The Weekly Reader poll of students ranging in age from kindergarten to 12th grade has successfully predicted the winner in all but one of the presidential elections over the last 52 years - 12 of the last 13 races. Here are the results for 2008.

Weekly Reader has been a leading publisher of supplemental educational products for schools and libraries for more than 100 years.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Introducing: The Constitution Free Zone!

A report from the ACLU!

Expanding Border Powers Creating ‘Constitution-Free Zone’ That Covers Two-Thirds of Americans (10/22/2008)

CONTACT: (202) 675-2312;

WASHINGTON – The extraordinary powers of customs and border agents to invade the privacy of individuals at the U.S. border are spreading inland and creating what amounts to a “Constitution-free Zone” that covers fully two-thirds of the American population, the American Civil Liberties Union said today in a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

“The authorities can do things at the border that they could never do to citizens and residents inside our country under the Constitution,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “Yet the government is asserting that some of these powers extend as far as 100 miles inside the actual border. It is a classic example of law enforcement powers expanding far beyond their proper boundaries – in this case, literally.”

At the press conference, the ACLU released a map showing the 100-mile “border region” claimed by the government, and cities and states that fall within it. The map, which was created using the latest census data, shows that fully two-thirds of the U.S. population, including 9 of the nation’s top 10 largest metro areas, is within the border zone.

This map illustrates the scope of these powers:

Make no mistake, these powers are not simply being used to make a quick check of your license or passport for citizenship, or "Checking your papers," as they used to say in Nazi Germany. This is about your wife sobbing by the side of the road while enduring a complete shakedown, a jagoff Border Patrol agent screaming "Where are the drugs? What are you hiding?" while ransacking the belongings of your RV, looking for any example of possible wrongdoing... yet was so incompetent that he could not find the full-length shotgun at the foot of the tiny RV bed.

Ask me how I know.

Open your eyes and know that the police state is nigh upon us. The gold ring on that map is a noose that will close to leave us a disarmed, pacified and imprisoned American People, every Constitutional Right thrown away in the name of that oh-so-illusive wraith: security.

Take off the blinders and put together all the pieces that show how far we've fallen since 9/11:

* FREEDOM OF SPEECH: At both party's conventions your right to freedom of speech was offered from razor-wire topped detainment areas that were conveniently located a long way from everything else.

* EAVESDROPPING: The United States government now has the power to eavesdrop on Americans "believed to have ties to terrorism", an accusation that can be creatively applied to include anyone at all. We all know a prominent US Senator who stands thus accused from the mouth of the other candidate. How many thousands of people has Barack Obama alone met who may now be "tied to a terrorist" through a holistic interpretation of the eavesdropping standard?

And do you know the detailed histories of everyone you know or work with? Only today a tenured UGA professor was summarily dismissed when it was found he had a serious crime hidden in his past. He must have known hundreds and hundreds of people in his capacity as a departmental Graduate Coordinator and educator over the years. What random person in your life will provide the "legal grounds" to tie YOU to terrorism when they decide to come and get you?

Eventually it will be deemed most efficient to go ahead and keep track of all of our calls and emails, let an army of computers screen for evidence of criminal activity and - depending on the religious stripe of the executive in charge - perhaps even "moral" crimes.

* TORTURE: The United States abandoned all moral authority on the global stage with the decision to torture its enemies. Torture puts us in the company of such countries as China, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Malaysia, Morocco, Nepal, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Syria, Turkey, Uganda, and Uzbekistan, as well as such all time greats as Stalin's USSR, Hitler's Germany and, ironically enough, Saddam Hussein's Iraq. It's a moral disgrace, an act of evil institutionalized. How much longer until your "ties to terrorism" are deemed sufficient to give you a turn on a waterboard?

* HABEAS CORPUS: Immigrants can now be held indefinitely, without charge, even if they are NOT found to have links to terrorism. As a human being you either have a right to a fair trial or you do not. Once again, a noose that will be drawn slowly tighter against all of us until one day it is completely gone.

The list of civil liberties lost goes on and on, but the combined threat to our freedom does not end there.

* PERSONAL TRACKING/SURVEILLANCE: The movies always told us that we would be chipped or implanted for purposes of tracking. Who would have ever guessed we would voluntarily carry around the cell phones that allow authorities to plot you on a Google map just as easily as they track the buses on the streets of Athens, Georgia.

At the same time the US spy drones fly over the Middle East and our towns and cities are watched by security cameras.

All of this technology is ready to help protect us.

* BLACKWATER: Unlike US troops they have not taken an oath to the Constitution, yet they were selected to perform key security functions in Iraq, including protection of US diplomats.
In practice they have answered to no one, and have been exempt from prosecution for their murderous actions.

This private, mercenary army only recently abandon efforts to build a remote "training center" near the border in the deserts of California and their presence was documented on the ground in New Orleans after Katrina. How much longer until this private gestapo force is ready to take on "enemies of the state" without those few boundaries still binding the action of the government?

The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world at 737 persons imprisoned per 100,000 (as of 2005).[15] A report released Feb. 28, 2008 indicates that in the United States more than 1 in 100 adults is now confined in an American jail or prison.[8] The United States has 5% of the world's population and 25% of the world's incarcerated population.[6]

For comparison, in 2006 the incarceration rate in England and Wales is 139 persons imprisoned per 100,000 residents, while in Norway it is 59 inmates per 100,000, whilst the Australian imprisonment rate is 163 prisoners per 100,000 residents, and the rate of imprisonment in New Zealand last year was 179 per 100,000.


No one ever thinks it can happen where they live, in their countries, in their lifetimes. But happen it does, over and over again in history. And unless we drive the new government to wholesale restoration of our Constitutional rights we may find that we have suddenly slipped past the point of no return, that we are a nation of concentration camps and reeducation centers where dissenters will be taught to be a member in good standing of the "Real America" that the GOP would have us use to measure up the nation.


Thanks to Ryan Singel at Wired BLOG and, most of all U-BOT!


Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Candidates

John McCain's Ace in the Hole?

Today the BBC reported that the US is being accused of violating the border with Syria.
'US troops' carry out Syria raid

US helicopter-borne troops have carried out a raid inside Syria along the Iraqi border, killing eight people including a woman, Syrian authorities say.


The Syrian foreign ministry summoned the US envoy in Damascus to protest at the raid.

A government official told Sana: "Syria condemns this aggressive act and holds American forces responsible for this aggression and all of its repercussions."

I would have assumed US Spec Ops have been conducting raids into both Syria and Iran throughout the Iraq War. Why is this one attracting international coverage? Is it possible that this is John McCain's Electoral Ace in the Hole, a parting gift from W.?

Conventional wisdom has always held the nation would rush to stand behind John McCain if there were another 9/11 type incident . W. and Cheney have tested the waters regarding attacking Iran many times, both convinced that history would hail them as visionaries and heroes for their transformation of the Middle East.

If John McCain seemed destined to take the presidency they could allow him to further press the attack on Iran in his own good time. But with all polling pointing to an Obama landslide, W. and Cheney will have to move quickly if they are to execute their end game - a debilitating attack on Iran.

Now, a week before the election it would be easy to send a Blackwater unit over the border to shoot up some civilians, stir up a regional problem with Syria (and thus Iran) that could be cited as the justification for further action - an attack on American soil that would be attribute to Syrians, Iranians and possibly even Bill Ayers. And then low and behold - George Bush has an excused to attack Iran and also possibly deliver McCain/Palin to the presidency - a Gulf of Tonkin incident cranked up to 21st century proportions.

That's a whole heap of speculation, but it does bear watching to see how this one plays out.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Look Into the Future of the Nation!

There is no reason to expect the presidencies of the candidates to be any different from the campaigns in terms of tone.

Barack Obama has inspired hope in millions as evidenced not only by a gigantic nationwide volunteer effort that has yielded millions of newly registered voters and donations by more than 2.5 million individuals, but also through the huge, peaceful crowds that turn out to greet him:

May 18, 2008 - Portland, Oregon

July 24, 2008 - Berlin

Oct. 18, 2008 - St. Louis, Missouri

I never understood how the GOP managed to add a negative connotation to Obama's enormous popularity in the USA and abroad. Wouldn't that be a good characteristic for our President?

In addition to being wildly erratic, the McCain/Palin campaign has been one of divisiveness, suspicion and fear. It's more of the same Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Rove fear mongering that was used to drive us to war with Iraq, steal our civil liberties, shame the nation with torture and whore out the American Taxpayers to Big Oil and Halliburton. McCain has cranked it up a notch further, inciting the rally attendees with the sort of speeches you imagine to be made to peasant mobs immediately prior to the storming of castles with torches and pitchforks.

Are we really considering turning the nation over to the Angry Mob contingent of the Republican party?

If anything ever happens to Barack Obama his blood will be on the hands of John McCain for stirring up all the right wing lunatics in the nation.

It worked for Paris Hilton!

In Ohio, battle of the plumbers (actual and otherwise) breaks out

As if further evidence was needed of the phenomenon that is "Joe the Plumber" (however brief it may be), there comes this e-mail advisory:

Real Toledo Area Plumbers to Hold Press Conference to Express Their Grave Concerns with Senator McCain’s Economic Policies

The message goes on to advise that in Northwood, Ohio, today "members of Local 50 Plumbers, Steamfitters and Service Mechanics" will not only take questions but "share their concerns with several of Sen. McCain's proposals, including his plan to tax employer-based healthcare insurance, his tax proposal which favors the wealthy over working Ohioans and other issues that will impact working families."

The gathering takes place shortly before a scheduled McCain appearance in nearby Westerville, Ohio.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Thanks to Jim in Real Life

Friday, October 17, 2008

Barack Obama for President

Mr. Obama's temperament is unlike anything we've seen on the national stage in many years. He is deliberate but not indecisive; eloquent but a master of substance and detail; preternaturally confident but eager to hear opposing points of view. He has inspired millions of voters of diverse ages and races, no small thing in our often divided and cynical country. We think he is the right man for a perilous moment.

Oct. 19, 2008 - Los Angeles Times

We need a leader who demonstrates thoughtful calm and grace under pressure, one not prone to volatile gesture or capricious pronouncement. We need a leader well-grounded in the intellectual and legal foundations of American freedom. Yet we ask that the same person also possess the spark and passion to inspire the best within us: creativity, generosity and a fierce defense of justice and liberty.

On Nov. 4 we're going to elect a president to lead us through a perilous time and restore in us a common sense of national purpose. The strongest candidate to do that is Sen. Barack Obama. The Tribune is proud to endorse him today for president of the United States.

It is worth noting that this is the first time in its 161 year history that the Chicago Tribune has endorsed a Democrat for president.

He is not George Bush!

All Aboard!

Thanks to Clooperbot!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Fear The Palinator!

Make no mistake, Michael Wooten sounds like a redneck and a jackass and was probably a pain in the ass as a brother-in-law and even worse during the divorce, but we should be very, very alarmed at the prospect of a president who is willing to turn the full force of an Executive Office to pursuit of a personal vendetta with this degree of unyielding obsession.

ANCHORAGE — The 2007 state fair was days away when Alaska’s public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan, took another call about one of his troopers, Michael Wooten. This time, the director of Gov. Sarah Palin’s Anchorage office was on the line.

As Mr. Monegan recalls it, the aide said the governor had heard that Mr. Wooten was assigned to work the kickoff to the fair. If so, Mr. Monegan should do something about it, because Ms. Palin was also planning to attend and did not want the trooper nearby.

Somewhat bewildered, Mr. Monegan soon determined that Mr. Wooten had indeed volunteered for duty at the fairgrounds — in full costume as “Safety Bear,” the troopers’ child-friendly mascot.


Ms. Palin has denied that anyone told Mr. Monegan to dismiss Mr. Wooten, or that the commissioner’s ouster had anything to do with the trooper. But an examination of the case, based on interviews with Mr. Monegan and several top aides, indicates that, to a far greater degree than was previously known, the governor, her husband and her administration pressed the commissioner and his staff to get Mr. Wooten off the force, though without directly ordering it.

In all, the commissioner and his aides were contacted about Mr. Wooten three dozen times over 19 months by the governor, her husband and seven administration officials, interviews and documents show.

Also alarming is the level of authority that seems to exist for First Husband Todd Palin. Ostensibly he's a seasonal fisherman and oil industry employee, but the truth is that his involvement in state business has been so significant that the governor's own staff would regularly quip "What would Todd do?" on most serious decisions.

Ms. McCann “wanted to know what relief was available to her” without spending the money to return to court, the lawyer said, adding, “As a close family, the Palins did their best to help her by reaching out further to the trooper hierarchy, with Todd taking the lead.”

On Jan. 4, 2007, a month into the Palin administration and his tenure as public safety commissioner, Mr. Monegan was called to the governor’s Anchorage office to meet Todd Palin. Mr. Palin was seated at a conference table with three stacks of personnel files. That, Mr. Monegan recalled, was the first time he heard the name Mike Wooten.

“He conveyed to me that he and Sarah did not think the investigation into Wooten had been done well enough and that they were not happy with the punishment,” Mr. Monegan said. “Todd was clearly frustrated.”

Also troubling: Sarah Palin was having this man watched, a fact that was revealed in 2007 - two years after Trooper Wooten's divorce from Palin's sister.

Several evenings later, Mr. Monegan’s cellphone rang. “Walt, it’s Sarah,” the governor said before echoing much of what her husband had said. Mr. Wooten, he recalls being told, was “not the kind of person we should want as a trooper.” He told the governor, too, that there was no new evidence to pursue.

Soon after that, Mr. Palin and several aides began pressing the public safety agency to investigate another matter: whether Mr. Wooten was fraudulently collecting workers’ compensation for a back injury he said he had suffered while helping carry a body bag.

Mr. Palin’s evidence: He told Ms. Peterson, the commissioner’s assistant, that he had seen Mr. Wooten riding a snowmobile while on medical leave, and that he had photographs to prove it.

John McCain has consistently stated "look at the record" if you want to know the future. In this case Sarah Palin has shown herself to be perfectly willing to use - and thus abuse - the power of her office to try to take someone down for personal reasons. This is the kind of leadership we have seen around the world with such all time greats as Kim Jong Il, Saddam Hussein and Joseph Stalin.

John McCain is liable to croak at an inaugural ball on the night of January 20th, 2009. Do we really want to risk putting the unlimited power and resources of the United States of America in the hands of Todd and Sarah Palin?


Here's the full story:
Palins Repeatedly Pressed Case Against Trooper

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Sarah Palin's Debate Notes

Ever wonder what's in Sarah Palin's debate notes? The truth is revealed here by my supersecret ally, Speedbot.