horses and saddles sold cheap and other metaphors

Friday, February 10, 2006

Paving over America an acre at a time

The Eastern Shore story was a kind of slight of hand it turns out, in typical conservative fashion they throw the people some crumbs with one hand and take a loaf of bread with the other, Parcels of national forests may be sold of
The Bush administration today is unveiling plans to sell tens of thousands of acres of national forest land in California as part of a new and controversial bid to fund rural schools.

The scattered California parcels are part of a nationwide sales package scheduled to raise an estimated $800 million.

Plucked throughout the Sierra Nevada mountains and from most of the state's 18 national forests, the California parcels are the kind of land Forest Service officials say they won't miss.

"These are acres that don't meet national forest needs, that are hard to manage and that are isolated," Undersecretary of Agriculture Mark Rey said Thursday.

"In some cases, people don't even realize they are part of the national forest."

Rey, who oversees the Forest Service, indicated that between 150,000 and 200,000 acres nationwide are likely to be proposed for sale.

Culled from recommendations made by individual forest managers, the parcels being proposed today will be open for public comment for 30 days before the package is sent to Congress.

Congress, though, need not go along, and environmentalists are already fighting the idea.

"We have major, major concerns about this," said John Buckley, executive director of the Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center in Twain Harte.

"If the land goes out of public ownership, it clearly means it will be less protected."

The argument that this is a small percentage of public lands just doesn;t wash. Suburban sprawl and the degradation of our country sides have been in small tracks of land over 40 years and all we have to show for it is sprawl, long commutes, and even more energy consumption. It looks like the best parts of America aren't being paved over in large swaths, but pieces at at time, each time with the assurance that its only a few acres..

Wal-Mart, another name for China Inc

Wal-Mart, another name for China Inc. U.S. Annual Trade Gap With China Swells to Record $201.6 Bln
Feb. 10 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. trade deficit with China ballooned to $201.6 billion last year, setting a single-country record for a third consecutive year as Americans' appetite for cheap imported clothing and electronics grew.

The gap jumped 25 percent from last year's $161.9 billion, the Commerce Department reported today in Washington. China surpassed Japan as the country with the biggest U.S. trade imbalance in 2000.

Chandler of Brown Brothers Harriman said calls for tariffs are misplaced.

``The role of government should be to smooth the transition to globalization, not to bash the Chinese over the head with more tariffs on their exports,'' he said. ``The solution is to put pressure on China to pay unemployment compensation, to allow workers to unionize and wages to rise.''

Trade with China has benefits for U.S. consumers, who can buy goods more cheaply at retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Wal-Mart, the world's biggest retailer, estimates it imported between $18 billion and $20 billion of goods from China in 2004, the latest figures available.

Not being an economists I relate to this as an average American worker with more questions and suspicious then answers. I somewhat agree with Chandler that at least part of the answer is to put pressure on the Chinese to up wages and the employee safety net and I would include environmental protection. Where I part with the Globalization, full speed ahead-no tariffs crowd is that small tariffs can be used to apply pressure and help ease the hemorrhaging of American manufacturing jobs. Lets say we are shifting to an economy based on services and technology with manufacturing a distant third. That shift is like an earthquake to some people who have thier skills/knowledge based on a certain way of life. If you worked at a toy factory or a car factory for the last ten years, thats your skill set. I sure don't hear conservatives talking about how to ease those folks into a new economy and even if they were talking, since they're so eager to cut Medicare benefits and muck up social security there's no reason to believe they'd come up with the money to finance a new skills set for displaced workers. To me it looks like the 1.5 billion a week we're spending to supposedly turn Iraq into a democracy could have been put tp better use.

Wildlife Refuge gets funding and Google's newest search tool raises privacy concerns

Eastern Shore
The Nature Conservancy Applauds President’s Budget Request for Wildlife Refuge on Eastern Shore of Virginia
“This funding would help ensure that Virginia’s critical wildlife habitat and water quality on the Eastern Shore will continue to be protected,” said Michael Lipford, Virginia executive director of The Nature Conservancy. “The more we save these habitats, the better our chances of protecting our coastal communities, tourism industry and productive fisheries – the resources that make the shore and Chesapeake Bay so special.”

Good news even if Bush gets a little credit.

Google's newest search tool raises privacy concerns
But online privacy advocacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation worries about Google extending its reach. "We think this is an enormous privacy risk for users who choose to utilize it," says EFF attorney Fred von Lohmann.

How Google Desktop 3 works:

• Computer A (say, a home PC) and computer B (the one at work) both download Google Desktop, which indexes all files on the hard drives and sends text copies of Office documents (Word, Excel) and other files to Google.

though according to this story, Google Desktop Gets New Features
you must specically enable this feature,
Finally—and to me this is the coolest feature—you can use the Google Desktop to search across multiple computers. This means that you can use your laptop to search for content on your desktop or any other computer that you choose. This is an advanced feature that you must enable to use, but setting it up is a straightforward process.

When you search, the Desktop uses Google servers to create a conduit between the computers, but then delete any information retrieved from Google servers. Results are text-only, somewhat of a limitation, and you can't transfer files in a native format between computers using this service. But it's a great way to find documents on other computers without having to run a search on multiple machines.

So proceed at your own risk.

Right-wingers trying to drag Harry Reid through the mud

Nothing pisses off a right-wing zealot worse then a man with genuine integrity, AP left out key facts in report linking Reid, Abramoff
In a February 9 article by staff writers John Solomon and Sharon Theimer, the Associated Press left out important details of two incidents that purportedly link Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The AP noted that Reid opposed legislation to approve a Michigan casino for a Native American tribe that would have rivaled a casino owned by a tribe represented by Abramoff. But the article omitted the fact that Reid said at the time that he opposed the legislation because it would create a "very dangerous precedent" for the spread of off-reservation gambling -- something Reid had opposed for nearly a decade. The article also suggested that Reid coordinated with Abramoff to sabotage proposed legislation that would have raised the minimum wage in the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. territory represented by Abramoff, without noting that, in fact, Reid was a co-sponsor of that legislation and spoke on the Senate floor in favor of its passage.

The AP noted that Reid "went to the Senate floor" to thwart legislation that would have harmed the Saginaw Chippewa, a tribe represented by Abramoff, because he deemed the bill "fundamentally flawed," but neglected to mention why Reid said he reached that conclusion:

Reid went to the Senate floor to oppose fellow Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow's effort to win congressional approval for a Michigan casino for the Bay Mills Indians, which would have rivaled one already operating by the Saginaw Chippewa represented by Abramoff.

"The legislation is fundamentally flawed," Reid argued, successfully leading the opposition to Stabenow's proposal.

In fact, Reid said the legislation was flawed because it would allow the Bay Mills tribe to build an off-reservation casino "under the guise of settling a land claim." From the November 19, 2002, Congressional Record:

REID: [A]llowing a tribe to settle a land claim and receive trust land hundreds of miles from their reservation for the express purpose of establishing a gaming facility sets a very dangerous precedent.

It looks like Republicans are desparate to make make the Abramoff scandal anything other then what it is, a Republican scandal.

Ex-Cheney Aide Testified Leak Was Ordered, Prosecutor Says
WASHINGTON, Feb. 9 — I. Lewis Libby Jr., the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, told a grand jury that he was authorized by his "superiors" to disclose classified information to reporters about Iraq's weapons capability in June and July 2003, according to a document filed by a federal prosecutor.

The document shows that Mr. Libby, known as Scooter, was actively engaged in the Bush administration's public relations effort to rebut complaints that there was little evidence to support the claim that Saddam Hussein possessed or sought weapons of mass destruction, which was used to justify the invasion of Iraq.

The document is part of the prosecutors' case against Mr. Libby, who has been indicted on charges that he lied about his role in exposing the identity of a C.I.A. operative to journalists.

I wonder if there was some conscious attempt to knock this off the front page by putting out some total garbage about Reid.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Dragons and the war on America's natural heritage

the "crowned dragon of the five-colored rocks" has been found....Petite, Crested Dinosaur Was Early Ancestor of T. Rex
Paleontologists working in western China have unearthed the remains of a new species of dinosaur that is an early member of the family of dinosaurs that culminated in Tyrannosaurus rex. They have dubbed the three-meter-long predator, which sports an elaborate crest along its snout, Guanlong wucaii, the "crowned dragon of the five-colored rocks."

How do you shape reality? Take funding away from studies that don't support your beliefs.........
.In yet another accusation that the Bush administration manipulates science for political objectives. U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., is raising questions as to why federal funding was suspended for a study that did not support more timber harvesting after wildfires.

Inslee indicated that funding halted when federal officials learned the research disputed White House favor for an industry-supported bill to speed salvage logging in national forests.

After five years of this administration, the congressman should be familiar with such log-rolling by now.

It looks like Bush appointee Park Service Director Fran Mainella is another Mike Brown, Alexander right to question parks proposal
U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who grew in Maryville and has a home in Townsend, has seen enough of the proposed changes Park Service Director Fran Mainella and his associates want to make. He has attacked them, saying they would devalue the mission of the country's national parks and lead to more air and noise pollution.

For Alexander to come out so strongly against a plan put forth by a political appointee of President Bush is significant. It is further evidence that what Mainella wants to do will hurt the parks, especially Great Smoky Mountains National Park which can't stand any more hits to its air quality or aesthetics. The Park Service is reviewing its policies for the first time in four years, trying to, in its words, "provide clear definitions, for the first time ever, of 'unacceptable impacts' to resources and 'acceptable uses' of parks."

But the proposals have caused outrage among many, including the National Parks Conservation Association, which says the changes are an effort to weaken the Park Service's preservation policy in favor of recreational users. Now it's true that some environment and conservation groups can be wacky in their views, but Sen. Alexander is not an extremist. Adding his opposition to that of environmental and conservation groups strengthens the position of those who think Mainella favors development and commercial enterprise over maintaining natural beauty and corralling pollution.

"If 'natural' conditions are defined to include man-made impacts like coal-fired power plants, it is difficult to see how we will ever achieve clean air in our parks," Alexander, who is vice chairman of the Senate subcommittee on national parks, wrote to Mainella.

I've always thought Lamar was a bit of a conservative odd-ball, but glad to see he's standing up to some guys that make him look like an old-fashioned moderate conservative, a species of Republican politician that seems headed for the endangered species list.

Social Security: Should We Applaud a Sneaky Proposal?
Social Security benefits for most people aren't much, yet the Bushies seem intent on turning it into another corporate welfare program like they have Medicare. God knows they wouldn't want to put people before corporate interests.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Right-wingers think this guy walking on crosses is classey.
I don't know why they even invited conservatives to Paul Wellstone's funeral much less Coretta Scott King's, Stop Making Sense

I personally find it absolutely outrageous, OUTRAGEOUS! that Republicans are attacking Coretta Scott King and her family this way. Why, she is an American icon! How dare they! Do they really think that African Americans don't know how to behave at a funeral for one of their own? How very white of them

Get ready for the white men of the Republican party to lecture black leaders about not knowing their place
At the funeral of Coretta Scott King, the grande dame of America's civil rights and progressive activist community, the Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery, a revered elder of that same community, criticized President Bush, and the war, and the fact that America still has so many poor and needy. Kind of something you'd expect at the funeral of a woman who after her husband was assassinated, yet the day before he was buried, led a civil rights march of 50,000 people. A woman who spoke at an anti-war rally in NYC only 3 weeks after her husband was mattered. A woman who devoted her entire life to non-violence.

Leave it to the party and their blogger apologists like Malkin, who has no shame, no heart, and no values to exploit a funeral to score some cheap political points. y
Well the problem is that everyone knows that the Emperor has no clothes, but you're not supposed to get all uppity and say it to his face. If the right-wing bloggers are pissed off that's great. What's Bush going to say considering the facts, there were no WMD, he's bungled the war, and he sure acts like he hates poor people,
President’s budget rejects the “least among us”

What do you mean by crushing my people, by grinding the face of the poor? - Isaiah 3:15

Bush Budget Triples Money from Alaska Oil Drilling its a short bulliten type of news release so here's the whole thing,
February 07, 2006 — By Reuters
WASHINGTON — The Bush administration Monday again asked Congress to allow oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), but almost tripled its estimate for the amount of money that would be collected in leasing fees from energy companies.

In its proposed budget for the 2007 spending year, the White House said it assumed the initial tracts in the refuge could be leased in 2008 and bring in $7 billion in new revenues, half of which would be shared with the state of Alaska.

That is almost triple the $2.4 billion the administration said in last year's budget it thought could be raised from the first round of ANWR leasing.

The administration did not explain what was behind its higher estimate for leasing fees, but it presumably reflects the jump in oil prices.

The refuge, which is home to a variety of wildlife such as polar bears and migratory birds, stretches across 19 million acres (7.7 million hectares) in the northeast corner of Alaska. But the White House only wants to offer 1.5 million acres (607,000 hectares) in the refuge's coastal plain for oil and natural gas exploration leases.

The administration has failed every year to convince Congress to give energy companies access to the refuge, which is a key part of the White House's national energy plan.

Republican Sen. Pete Domenici, chairman of the Senate's energy committee, has said he will try in the spring to add ANWR drilling language to the filibuster-proof budget bill.

The Interior Department estimates the refuge could hold between 5.7 billion and 16 billion barrels of recoverable oil.

If the refuge was opened to drilling, it would take about eight years before the area reached full production of around 800,000 to 1 million barrels per day, according to the Energy Department's analytical arm.

A young Bushie that declared that The Big Bang was just a theory resigned today, I'm sure he'll be scooped up by some right-wing "think tank". I put it in quotes because they're not think tanks they're just propaganda mills for right-wing press manipulation, George C. Deutsch,
the young Bush campaign flack who was telling NASA personnel that they shouldn't discuss the Big Bang without considering the topic from its religious perspective, has been forced to resign. As reported first earlier today by the Scientific Activist blog, Deutsch claimed on his resume on file at NASA that he was a graduate of Texas A&M.

Only he never graduated.

So he lied on his resume, and presumably his job application too. Always a bad move if you're planning to become embroiled in a major media firestorm.

Just to keep the recollection fresh, Deutsch was an intern in the Bush-Cheney 2004 'war room'. That qualified him for his next assignment screening scientific information NASA personnel could communicate to the public.

Speaking Truth To Power
The video of Reverend Lowery’s smack down is here, and no, I could not care less if the right wing is pissed off at this today. There are plenty of white Democratic politicians inside the Beltway who could learn a thing or two from Reverend Lowery about holding Republicans accountable for the Southern Strategy, and their ongoing war against African Americans.

At pandagon they behind the scenes at freeperville and catch the real spirit of the modern Republican party, This is the Republican base

Lowery : Blah Blah blah bash bash bash bull bull bull Dubya : What a maroon. Laura : Please let me kick his ass. Please OK - give it your best

“I would like another roll with dinner please.”

“Two classy people sitting behind a pile of trash.”

Colonel Sanders has been palling around with George Hamilton.

Lowery: And yesim, we’s be black and we’s be proud. We’s for the gubmit but not Bush’s gubmit. Bush’s gubmit is against us black peoples…

Bush thinking: They just can’t leave politics out of it, can they? How low CAN they sink?

This dialogue is from a freeper of which I can only say horse manure has more value and more honor.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Bush seeks 4 pct cut in U.S. environment budget

Reuters reports:
WASHINGTON, Feb 6 (Reuters) - The Environmental Protection Agency's 2007 budget would decrease by 4 percent to $7.3 billion, the fourth cut in a row for the agency's yearly budget, the Bush administration said on Monday.

Lowering funding for clean water programs by 13 percent to $2.7 billion.

Cutting clean air and global climate change research by $10.8 million to $118.7 million.

They are increaing some aspects of environmental spending,
* Nearly doubling the amount spent on researching nanotechnology to $8.6 million in order to understand how microscopic materials released into the environment might affect human health and ecosystems.

* Spending $50 million to reduce emissions from construction equipment and other diesel fueled machines that don't operate on the road.

Not sure how much sense it makes to lower funding for clean water programs and yet increasing the research budget to study the effects of nanotechnology toxins. Why say that clean water isn't too important on one hand and studying just one of the factors that contribute to water and air pollution on the other hand is important.

The Pain Comics. One good thing about Bush and the current cabal of conservative scoundrels is the grist they suppy for comics.

Colleges compete to save lives – and the environment
Universities across Michigan are neck and neck in an unusual race. It has nothing to do with athletics or academics. It deals with a matter of life and death.

Students are competing this week in the "Gift of Life University Challenge." They are trying to enroll in the Gift of Life Organ Registry.

In Michigan alone, there are 2,800 people presently waiting for a transplant. So far this year, 58 people have gotten their life-saving organ. Five people have died waiting.

Last year, Western topped the state signing up almost 1,000 people.

In another kind of collegiate competition, Kalamazoo College and Western Michigan University are taking part in a nationwide recycling contest.

It is called Recycle-Mania. Last year, K-College ranked in the top 10 in the campus-wide and residence hall categories. "It's not a win-lose, it's a win-win for everybody - regardless of how well or how poorly you do," says Recycling Coordinator Rob Townsend.

The competition started about four years ago and has doubled in size each year. K-College is one of 93 schools from 33 states participating.

Its puzzling that too many conservatives denigrate environmentalism since its not about some abstraction, its about doing good for people. We're all connected to and rely on the environment. If the air and water isn't healthy we won't be either.

My Ecosystem Details