Sunday, 15 July 2007

What Evolution Left Behind on Humans

You may have read about what your appendix did but your vomeronasal organ?

Monday, 9 July 2007

Lame Duck?

A frightening scenario outlined by Andrew Sullivan in his weekly Times column.

This is all he’s got left. The mighty power of the presidency, a predilection for sudden action, and absolutely nothing to lose. This lame duck, in other words, could quack or fly without warning. And Washington, for all its increasingly open contempt for him, is rattled by the possibility. They don’t know what’s coming; but they know they’ll have to adjust.

In this, perhaps for the first time, even Republicans are having a familiar experience. They now know what it’s like to be a European with this president. And they are longing for it to be over.

I've always believed it was Dick Cheney who was pulling the strings. How far back does the relationship go? It is well known that George W Bush asked Cheney to select a candidate for VP but how influential was Cheney in pushing forward GWB's nomination, preparing an empty vessel that he could then fill at will?

The only issue that Bush deserves credit for is his stand on immigration. It's his personal knowledge from his background in Texas that drives this. Everything else has been driven by Cheney. Remember the president's questioning by the 9/11 commission - he wouldn't do it without his VP.

This video says it all.

This is Spinal Tap - Again

The inimitable Spinal Tap - at Live Earth.

I loved the mini-Stonehenge, especially the late arrival of the lintel.

Friday, 6 July 2007

How Do You Live Without It?

Beer Handles?

Broder Bollocks

What is David Broder taking these days?

In his latest Op-Ed in tew WaPo he argues that politicians are bowing to public opinion too much.

The latest cave-ins involve immigration and trade policy, and both seriously threaten the national interest.

The collapse of the immigration reform bill in the Senate last month means that the broken border system, which allows a continuing flood of illegal immigrants to enter the United States with no hope of attaining the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship, will continue for at least two more years. No one is talking of reviving the effort until after the 2008 election installs a new president and Congress.

It wasn't public opinion that brought the downfall of the immigration bill, in fact 70% of the public supported it. It was the rush of politicians, mainly Republicans, to satisfy their ever-polarised and vocal base that stopped the bill.

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Did you see it?

Go on, admit it! You missed it too. I did.

A Map of the Last Two Week's Earthquakes

Here is a site showing the last two weeks worth of earthquakes around the globe.

That's a lot of quakes that haven't made the news.

President Compares Iraq to Revolutionary War

Is it a good idea for President Bush to remind the American people of a long-ago fight to rid the country of an Imperial King George?

"We must succeed for our sake. For the security of our citizens, we must support the Iraqi government and we must defeat al-Qaeda in Iraq," said Bush, who will turn 61 on Friday.
Is it al-Qaeda that the US troops are fighting in Iraq? From what I've read, most of the attacks are by Iraqis who want the invading troops out of their country. When the US military announces a firefight with al-Qaeda operatives, it is just reported verbatim in the press without any questioning over the terminology - even when the dead turn out to be grandparents and children.

Glenn Greenwald sums it up here.

And when did George W Bush last appear in public, without a carefully-screened audience? Does anyone have the date?

Novak's View

Robert Novak, who played an integral part in the Plamegate affair, writes in a Washington Post Op-Ed piece
Armitage was not indicted because the statute prohibiting disclosure of an intelligence agent's identity was not violated. But Fitzgerald plowed ahead with an inquiry that produced obstruction of justice and perjury charges against Libby, though there was no underlying crime.
A couple of points from this paragraph - why wasn't the statute violated? Valerie Plame was undercover, wasn't she, although it is still being denied in some areas. And as for the 'no underlying crime' claim, the whole point of the conviction was that Libby lied under oath to prevent the investigation of a crime.

Dan Froomkin, as usual, has an extensive coverage of editorial reaction to the decision.

I have read a lot of comment comparing the perjury conviction to that of Bill Clinton's. What seems to be lost on a lot of right-wing commentators is the question of scale. Lying about a sexual indiscretion doesn't seem quite as serious as lying to cover up the real reasons for going to war.

It reminds me of one of my favourite moments in 'A Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy' where one of the largest forces ever assembled in the galaxy was sent to invade Earth but due to an error of scale was swallowed by a small dog.

Missing Pieces

Missing pieces used to ruin a jigsaw. Not here...

All About Oil

The past five years has seen anybody who has dared to mention oil as the reason for the invasion of Iraq shouted down and ridiculed.

Today, the Australian Minister of Defence, on the basis that Australia's reasoning has always had to mimic the American's, has finally let the cat out of the bag.

Speaking ahead of today's key foreign policy speech by Prime Minister John Howard, Dr Nelson said defence was about protecting the economy as well as physical security.

Dr Nelson also said it was important to support the "prestige" of the US and UK.

"The defence update we're releasing today sets out many priorities for Australia's defence and security, and resource security is one of them," he told ABC radio.

"The entire (Middle East) region is an important supplier of energy, oil in particular, to the rest of the world.

"Australians and all of us need to think well what would happen if there were a premature withdrawal from Iraq?"

Will Dick Cheney ever own up?

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Libby's Freedom

In one of the most predictable moves of his presidency, George W Bush commutes Scooter Libby's sentence. Andrew Sullivan sums it up:

What more do we need to know? These people think they are above the law. This president thinks he is above the law. The vice-president believes he is above the law. And when democratic leaders act as if they are the law unto themselves, and are prepared to upend the justice system to serve their own political ends, it's time for a revolt. Sorry, David. But this won't be forgotten - ever. It's a final straw, a call to wake up before these criminals get away with it one more time.

What Does the Iraqi Oil Law Mean?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but this AP article on Yahoo says that the Iraqi Oil Law defines distribution of the oil revenues. My understanding is that it decides how the oil is going to be exploited (mainly by US oil companies) and that a subsequent law will have to be passed to decide on the revenue-sharing.

It's pretty plain why the US governemnt has been pushing for this. It's what Operation Iraqi Liberation, oops sorry, Freedom, was all about.