Archive for category Disaster

More Evidence For Worst President Ever

Condi Rice
Worst National Security Advisor Ever

Politico provides even more evidence, some of which was left out of the 9/11 Commission’s report, that the Worst President Ever had the Worst National Security Advisor Ever. Not that we needed any more evidence.

By May of 2001, says Cofer Black, then chief of the CIA’s counterterrorism center, “it was very evident that we were going to be struck, we were gonna be struck hard and lots of Americans were going to die.”

…The drama of failed warnings began when Tenet and Black pitched a plan, in the spring of 2001, called “the Blue Sky paper” to Bush’s new national security team. It called for a covert CIA and military campaign to end the Al Qaeda threat—“getting into the Afghan sanctuary, launching a paramilitary operation, creating a bridge with Uzbekistan.” “And the word back,” says Tenet, “‘was ‘we’re not quite ready to consider this. We don’t want the clock to start ticking.’” (Translation: they did not want a paper trail to show that they’d been warned.)

…That morning of July 10, the head of the agency’s Al Qaeda unit, Richard Blee, burst into Black’s office. “And he says, ‘Chief, this is it. Roof’s fallen in,’” recounts Black. “The information that we had compiled was absolutely compelling. It was multiple-sourced. And it was sort of the last straw.” Black and his deputy rushed to the director’s office to brief Tenet. All agreed an urgent meeting at the White House was needed. Tenet picked up the white phone to Bush’s National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. “I said, ‘Condi, I have to come see you,’” Tenet remembers. “It was one of the rare times in my seven years as director where I said, ‘I have to come see you. We’re comin’ right now. We have to get there.’”

Tenet vividly recalls the White House meeting with Rice and her team. (George W. Bush was on a trip to Boston.) “Rich [Blee] started by saying, ‘There will be significant terrorist attacks against the United States in the coming weeks or months. The attacks will be spectacular. They may be multiple. Al Qaeda’s intention is the destruction of the United States.’” [Condi said:] ‘What do you think we need to do?’ Black responded by slamming his fist on the table, and saying, ‘We need to go on a wartime footing now!’”

“What happened?” I ask Cofer Black. “Yeah. What did happen?” he replies. “To me it remains incomprehensible still. I mean, how is it that you could warn senior people so many times and nothing actually happened? It’s kind of like The Twilight Zone.”

Just as a reminder, several of the al-Qaeda operatives involved in the 9/11 terror plot were already in the USA. Their identities were known to the FBI. If the Bush administration had heeded the numerous warnings, could the pieces of the puzzle have come together before September 11, 2001?

More info:
Ex-CIA director: White House ignored months of warnings about 9/11 to avoid leaving ‘paper trail’ of culpability


‘Called upon to fight, they fled’

Andrew Bacevich: On Building Armies (and Watching Them Fail)

First came Fallujah, then Mosul, and later Ramadi in Iraq. Now, there is Kunduz, a provincial capital in northern Afghanistan. In all four places, the same story has played out: in cities that newspaper reporters like to call “strategically important,” security forces trained and equipped by the U.S. military at great expense simply folded, abandoning their posts (and much of their U.S.-supplied weaponry) without even mounting serious resistance. Called upon to fight, they fled. In each case, the defending forces gave way before substantially outnumbered attackers, making the outcomes all the more ignominious.

“Vietnamization,” the U.S policy that ended in abject failure with the fall of Saigon in 1975, proved that training, weapons, and equipment can never make up for a deficit of will. Also, a weak state with dubious legitimacy can’t be propped up for very long by military force. Jump to the conclusion:

What are the policy implications of giving up the illusion that the Pentagon knows how to build foreign armies? The largest is this: subletting war no longer figures as a plausible alternative to waging it directly. So where U.S. interests require that fighting be done, like it or not, we’re going to have to do that fighting ourselves. By extension, in circumstances where U.S. forces are demonstrably incapable of winning or where Americans balk at any further expenditure of American blood — today in the Greater Middle East both of these conditions apply — then perhaps we shouldn’t be there.

Bacevich doesn’t address the fiasco of the so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels, armed and trained by the U.S., who promptly surrendered and turned over all their equipment to al-Qaeda. The Pentagon recently announced the end of that misbegotten military aid effort (which was probably undertaken solely to make Senator John McCain happy, as if).

More info:
Taliban Withdraw From Kunduz After Days of Fighting
Not Again! US Trained Syrian “Moderates” Surrender To Jihadists – Hand Over Heavy Weapons


You Might Have Seen This Coming

I wouldn’t want to take responsibility for wreaking Germany’s great reputation for engineering excellence either, but come on Mr. Winterkorn. :) I wouldn’t expect the new CEO to get much much respect from his employees with this being his first action as the head of Volkswagen.

Volkswagen Blames Emissions-Cheating Scandal on Low-Level Technicians

In public statements issued at the company’s headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany, new CEO Matthias Müller condemned the “unlawful behavior of engineers and technicians involved in engine development.”

Müller, former head of Porsche, took over after Martin Winterkorn resigned from the position of CEO earlier this week claiming he is “not aware” of any wrongdoing on his part.

Personally, I think I’m going to have to go with this instead:

Mother Jones political blogger Kevin Drum wrote Saturday that he is not buying the company’s claims.

“This is ridiculous,” Drum argued. “What incentive do low-level engineers and technicians have to do this on their own?”

“Hell, they couldn’t even take on a project like this unless their managers OKed the time to do it, and their managers wouldn’t do it unless they were being pressed by higher-ups,” Drum continued. “Anybody who’s ever worked at a big corporation knows this perfectly well.

This is the worst corporate debacle ever, without people directly dying.

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Gotta Get Me Some Of Those Baby Parts!

163217 It’s the next big thing in liberal circles across the nation. You don’t need to die now. You can get some of your youth back, but don’t delay; baby organs are gonna be sailing out the door when word gets out. Don’t worry though, when young girls find out they can make an extra 75 bucks by almost giving birth, the industry’s going to just explode!

OK, I’m sorry. There’s nothing funny about Republicans making political hay out of a very serious and private issue, but they are intent on winning in 2016, and getting rid of “Planned Parenthood” at the same time. If that means bringing bloody baby livers and tissue into the public discussion, well, that’s where we’ll have to go.

Speaker John Boehner said Planned Parenthood makes him feel like throwing up. Mike Huckabee thinks he’ll be able to use this to show up on polling results.

For some reason, this morning I turned on the Sunday morning political shows, for the first time in many years. I was shocked to see George Stephanopolis covering this story. It’s impossible not to make comparisons to the phony ACORN scandal which brought down that organization, but hey, if it worked once… Besides, if the Democrats couldn’t see fit to stand up against that scam, this one should be a breeze! We’re talking fetus’s here!

This is just more, very well financed, Breitbart style entrapment infotainment which will get a lot of people killed, allow republicans to call democrats, “baby killers” and participate in more pro-life pagentry then ever before. There couldn’t be a more cynical political strategy then this. ABC first covered this story in 2000 on 20/20, but I guess the trouble it could cause for Democrats in 2016 was just too salacious.

Sorry Boehner and Huckabee, but I think I’m the one who’s going to puke.

So far the Democratic candidates don’t seem to be taking the bait and I’m proud of them. I’m also proud of how Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood handled Stephanopolis’s phony concern beautifully. All other Democrats should have her strength:

ABC US News | World News

Please don’t cave in this time Democrats. We’re watching you. All those little children got slaugtered in the Newtown tragedy and nothing happened. You don’t have any excuse to give the Republicans a victory here. Get angry, save lives, prevent abortions and protect women’s – really everybody’s – rights.

P.S. I feel bad about using the photo shoot from the only bad idea the Bealtles ever had, but it fit my post. :) They were trying to protest the Vietnam war and save babies. It’s a good thing somebody came to their senses and pulled that album cover.


How To Talk To A Brick Wall

Utah Tar Sands Panel

Utah Tar Sands Panel

The Utah Department of Natural Resource’s Division of Oil, Gas and Mining held a hearing yesterday morning because a Canadian energy corporation has plans to mine large areas of Utah tar sands. Under state law, a hearing must be held if residents have objections.

I was worried nobody would be there to document the proceedings, so I took my camcorder to the event. The first part of the meeting was consumed by representatives for “U.S. Oil Sands”, defending the Calgary based company from questions about it’s protection of Utah’s water resources.

The Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret Morning News did stories on the matter, but I’m pretty sure I was the only one who filmed the meeting. Television crews sometimes cover things getting set up and then leave when important public events get underway.

I’m only presenting comments given by the Utah activists and citizens who showed up and elected to speak. Obviously I didn’t have a tripod. Nothing has been edited except for where the second speaker gives his name. My battery had to be changed.


After the public comments, John Baza, who presided over the hearing said, “There are things that have been said here today that have touched me and I am sensitive to those.” My opinion is that the corporation will get everything it wants. Am I being cynical again?

UPDATE: Here is the panel discussion portion of the hearing. This is virtually the entire conversation. The short gaps were due to small camera adjustments. I’m still learning how to use it. :)

The man closest to, and facing away from my camera during the video and in the top picture of this post is University of Utah geology professor, Bill Johnson. He is fighting hard for Utah’s lands:

Please go to “Utah Tar Sands Resistance” to participate in stopping the destruction of our beautiful Utah lands or Donate!

UPDATE: Jill Merritt made up this handy list to navigate the first video. Thanks Jill!
speaker list 2

UPDATE: The Salt Lake Tribune has published two letters to the editor: From July 4th and July 5th. The paper has also published a very good editorial concerning the Tar Sands hearing:

Editorial: Tar sands extraction unproven and risky

UPDATE: As I suspected, the expansion of the “U.S. Oil Sands” project has been approved. The Salt Lake Tribune reports “a partial victory for environmentalists due to requiring the company to monitor nearby springs for potential groundwater contamination and submit documentation showing the mine is in compliance with air quality regulations. Of course none of the environmentalists wanted an expansion at all, and I have my doubts that the monitoring will be carried out sufficiently.

Here’s the latest Deseret News article.


Add This to the “No One Could Have Predicted” File

ISIS map

It’s a meme made famous by Bush administration officials who failed to do their jobs. Over and over again, following each Bush catastrophe from the 9/11 attacks to Hurricane Katrina to the 2008 collapse of the financial sector (causing a near depression), they told us, “no one could have predicted” what would happen.

Now we learn, via a newly declassified document from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), that in 2012 intelligence analysts predicted the rise of ISIS and the founding of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. This would be a direct consequence of the intervention of U.S. allies and the U.S. itself in the Syrian civil war, according to the report.

Just like the 9/11 attacks, we saw it coming and did nothing to prevent it. At the very least, top government officials underestimated the ISIS threat to the region and to our own national security.

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Yemen: ‘Somalia is in better shape than us’

Protest against Saudi air strikes, March 26 in Sanaa

The news from Yemen is that a humanitarian disaster is rapidly overtaking the Arab world’s poorest country, which the USA helped to destabilize with drone strikes against Islamic militants. The Saudis are poised to finish the job, committing war crimes with U.S. – made weapon systems.

“It is a terrible situation and it is moving so fast,” Julien Harneis, the Yemen representative of the United Nations Children Fund, told The Associated Press. “We are heading toward a humanitarian disaster.”

…In the southern city of Aden, medical supplies are running out. Doctors Without Borders, which operates in the city, said it has received over 500 wounded, including more than 110 on the first day of airstrikes. UNICEF is giving out midwife kits to treat injured civilians because of lack of supplies.

…In al-Houta, a city north of Aden, people are fleeing fighting to nearby villages for safety and to find goods and produce, said 28-year old resident Ahmed Rageh. The local gas station has been closed for nearly three weeks. “It is a disastrous situation. Somalia is now in a better shape than us,” he said.

It’s heartbreaking to see catastrophe overtake a beautiful country with such a rich history and friendly people. I lived there for two years in the early 1990s, traveled to visit ancient ruins and poor but architecturally fascinating villages. There was virtually no crime. But many problems were waiting to surface, particularly the disenfranchisement of Shiites and the uneasy relationship with Saudi Arabia – which has invaded Yemen in the past.


Why Are Republicans Legislating From The Bench?

Because they never cared about legislating from the bench anyway, if their side could win by doing that. I didn’t pose that as a question because it’s a fact.

This ACA in the supreme court challenge is a very interesting one and it puts Republican lawmakers right on the hot seat. They have been doing everything they could to kill the legislation that almost everybody seems to like, including hospitals, patients and insurance companies. Nobody’s been complaining; surely not me, who for the first time in eight years, actually has health care.

This never had to get to the supreme court and even if the supreme court decision results in millions of people losing their health care and sending the entire health system into chaos, it will be because the Republicans refuse to clarify four words in the law either before OR after the decision comes down.

Although this is going to directly effect me in a profound way, I’m going to be pulling up a chair and getting the popcorn ready.


Rudy Giuliani: ‘I do not believe that the President loves America’

Dog whistle

Via Politico:

NEW YORK — Rudy Giuliani went straight for the jugular Wednesday night during a private group dinner here featuring Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker by openly questioning whether President Barack Obama “loves America.”

…“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America,” Giuliani said during the dinner at the 21 Club, a former Prohibition-era speakeasy in midtown Manhattan. “He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.”

When you start out with, “I know this is a horrible thing to say…” maybe you should not say it?

I think it’s time to question whether the Tea-GOP “loves America.” The Bush administration failed to defend us from the single worst terrorist attack in history. They sent millions of Americans to fight unwinnable wars halfway around the world. They ruined America’s reputation as a defender of human rights, replacing it with wars of aggression and torture. They put the NSA to work spying on all of us. They abandoned New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. They topped themselves by crashing our economy, causing millions of Americans to lose jobs, homes, and retirement savings. Then they waged a years-long campaign of economic sabotage in a failed attempt to stop the Obama administration from helping America recover from Bush’s Great Recession, including a government shutdown, a near-default on the National Debt, and the so-called “sequester” (aka austerity budgeting). Now they are trying to take away health insurance from 13 million Americans, and prevent millions more from getting any in the first place.

I am NOT feeling the love!

Congressman Defends Outrageous Giuliani Remarks: Obama ‘Views America Differently’
Gov. Scott Walker: ‘I don’t know’ whether Obama is a Christian


2014 Was The Hottest Year on Record

Time series of five-year global temperature averages, mapped from 1880 to 2014, as estimated by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York.

The year 2014 ranks as Earth’s warmest since 1880, according to two separate analyses by NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists.

The 10 warmest years in the instrumental record, with the exception of 1998, have now occurred since 2000. This trend continues a long-term warming of the planet, according to an analysis of surface temperature measurements by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS) in New York.

In an independent analysis of the raw data, also released Friday, NOAA scientists also found 2014 to be the warmest on record.

While scientists expect temperatures to fluctuate from year to year, the average temperature of the planet as a whole has warmed by about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degrees Celsius) since 1880. This trend is largely driven by increasing human emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

More info:
NASA, NOAA Find 2014 Warmest Year in Modern Record


More Awfulness From Congress

Hell no we won't go
Hell no, we won’t go!!

The must-pass National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) contains a 449-page package of public lands riders. As you might expect from this Congress, it’s a stinker full of corporate giveaways. It transfers 110,000 acres of our public lands into private ownership. Part of the Tonto National Forest in Arizona will be given to Rio Tinto for a copper mine, including sacred Apache lands. Coal reserves in the Bull Mountains of Montana will be given to Great Northern Properties, a Houston-based coal company. Sealaska Corporation gets 70,000 acres of the Tongass National Forest for clear-cutting timber that used to belong to all Americans.

There’s a stealth provision removing existing Wilderness Study Area (WSA) protections for two areas in eastern Montana, without any public input whatsoever.

The legislation also mandates automatic renewals of livestock grazing on our public lands, even where grazing operations are degrading wildlife habitat and fouling streams and rivers — without the evaluation under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) that’s currently required. The so-called “Grazing Improvement Act” also automatically extends grazing permits on public lands from 10 to 20 years. The exemption of grazing permits from NEPA basically puts public land management agencies out of business with regard to ecosystem management. That is a heavy hit with far-reaching consequences.

Ten right-wing Tea-GOPers including Tom Coburn of Oklahoma had objected to including parks and wilderness bills in a defense bill. They were joined by Democratic Senators Jeff Merkeley (OR), Ron Wyden (OR), and Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) and Independent Bernie Sanders (VT). On December 11, the Senate voted 85-14 to break the filibuster.

As a “Christmas tree” bill enjoying widespread bipartisan support, the NDAA passed the House by a vote of 300-119 last Thursday and the Senate by 89-11 yesterday. The package of legislation is expected to be signed by the President soon.

On the plus side, the NDAA riders would add 250,000 acres to the National Wilderness Preservation System, establish or expand national parks, and designate more than 100 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers. But the losses far outweigh the wins.

More info:
Some Context on the Defense Bill Riders: Public Lands Losses Far Outweigh Any Wins
Top 5 Offensive Provisions of the Public Lands Rider
Defense bill with wilderness & parks plus land giveaways beats cloture 85-14. 3 Dems & Sanders no
Congress Protects New National Parks And Wilderness Areas For The First Time In 5 Years
Defense Bill Passes, Giving Sacred Native American Sites To Mining Company


Media Fail: New Climate Change Report Ignored

Superstorm Sandy global view
NOAA’s GOES-13 satellite captured this image of the massive Superstorm Sandy on October 28, 2012.

Ari Phillips on Think Progress:

[O]n Sunday, the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change released a Synthesis Report detailing the dangers of climate change. Hundreds of scientists spent the last five years preparing this final report, which says that carbon pollution must be slashed now or risk “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.”

None of the network Sunday shows mentioned this latest report or its stark findings.

It’s not just a media fail. Has any candidate in tomorrow’s election mentioned climate change as a campaign issue?

Take a look at the damage from Superstorm Sandy in the before-and-after aerial imagery. This one storm two years ago impacted more than a dozen states along the eastern seaboard, causing $65 billion in damage. A major factor in the disaster was the higher sea level. Climate models predict that sea level will rise an additional two to three feet over the next century.

More info:
New UN Climate Report Calls For End Of Fossil Fuel Use By 2100


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