Tuesday, September 27, 2005

And now, going live to our embedded reporter, Sr. Glenn Anne McPhee

Sr. Glenn Anne McPhee OP is the secretary for education for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. She's also on the government's no-fly list.

From the AP story:
"This was the beginning of nine months of hell," McPhee said.

If anyone can report authoritatively on hell, it's going to be a Dominican nun. They're the ones that ran the Inquisition, so they recognize beastly treatment.

Continuing from the article:
Before flying back to Washington, D.C., McPhee called a family connection who works at an airline and who had access to the watch lists provided by the government to the airlines.

Sister McPhee was being stopped because the list said that an Afghani man was using the last name McPhee as an alias. The list had no first name for him, and the intensive checks would continue until she cleared her name with the ombudsman at the Transportation Security Administration, according to this family connection.

Well, there you have it. An Afghani man, going by the name McPhee and impersonating a Dominican nun, is threatening our skies.

One last thing: acerbic comments are not appreciated by the police. Sr. Glenn Anne McPhee reports:

"I said something to the effect that 'If this were Northern Ireland, I would understand,'" McPhee said. "And the police officer said, 'Ma'am, I'll pretend I didn't hear that, or otherwise I would have to arrest you.' After that, I didn't say anything."

Why, if we had Stormont open, we'd do something about that!

By George, I think he's got it!

From White House, Tennessee, WFTV reports:
Alderman Darrel Leftwich is proposing that the city establish new Sunday hours for White House Municipal Park so sporting events could only be held in the afternoon.

Leftwich solemnly intoned that God intended the seventh day to be one of rest and worship. He had been driving to services at Temple Baptist Church (ed. note: natch) and noticed the park was full of people at a soccer tournament.

But before we despair, Alderman Farris Bibb (ed. note: we're not making these names up) to the rescue:
Alderman Farris Bibb Jr. said the city should go slow before enacting a change. "With all due respect to Alderman Leftwich, the seventh day of the week is Saturday," Bibb said.

You took the words right out of my mouth, Farris.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Quote of the day!

Wilbur and Orville Wright
From Wired Magazine:
How do you explain to the FAA that we had a rabbit strike at 1,800 feet?"

Among the Smithsonian's nooks and crannies is the Feather Identification Laboratory. [I am not making this up.] Tissue swabs from bird-plane collisions are sent to the lab for analysis. The scientists call this carnage "snarge." [Still not making this up.]

Forensic ornithology covers a wide swath. These guys just don't whoop it up - they need to know things like feather topooly and apply their keen insights to wildlife enforcement, archeology, and phylogenetic studies of birds. And of course, bird-aircraft strikes. A properly leveraged career could land you a gig on CSI.

The first recorded bird strike was by WIlbur Wright in 1905. We just have to take Orville's word for it. Which reminds me, if you thought their names were a little out of the mainstream, they had 2 other brothers - Lorin and Reuchlin. Their dad was a bishop in the United Brethern Church. Do what you will with that information.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Let's hear it for the City of Los Angeles

Police Captain Andrew Smith of Los Angeles ran across an urban legend in the act:
the police dumping the homeless, mentally ill, and criminals in downtown Los Angeles.

From the Los Angeles Times:
Smith said he was out on patrol with his partner about 10 a.m. Tuesday when he noticed a Los Angeles County sheriff's car driving down 6th Street. The cruiser, he said, turned south on San Pedro, then west on 7th Street to San Julian Street. There, Smith watched in disbelief as two deputies "pulled over, took a guy in handcuffs out of the car. They took off the cuffs and handed him a bag," Smith said.

The captain and his partner immediately got out of their car and questioned the man and the deputies. Smith said the deputies told him that the man had been released from the Men's Central Jail and was standing outside on the street when a supervisor ordered them to take the man to a downtown mission.

"But there was no mission nearby," Smith said. "Only a line of guys sitting on milk crates."

Let me interject here that I do not believe this is limited to Los Angeles. I hope to see other newspapers ferret out this despicable practice.

More from the article:
Late last year, after Santa Clarita decided not to reopen a winter shelter it had operated and instead opted to pay a social service provider to bus the homeless to shelters in the San Fernando Valley and downtown,

People suck.

Why is this becoming an issue now? More from the article:

Estimates place downtown's homeless population at 9,000 to 11,000. Most live in skid row, located in the older section of downtown around 5th Street. But in recent years, the area has become an epicenter for a dramatic revitalization of Los Angeles' central core. Many of the long-derelict banking buildings around skid row have been transformed into luxury lofts as a new residential community of upscale urbanites takes hold.

Luxury lofts, of course! These urban interlopers want the character of the neighborhood without the characters. And with property values are at risk, now they are concerned about "police dumping." Not concerned about the humans who are getting dumped, though.

I'm not guessing about the lack of concern - continuing from the article:
"How dare they," said Lopez, of the Central City East Assn. "How dare they take someone with a criminal record of the magnitude this person has, and put him on the streets? … My organization is spending $1 million a year on safety. What disrespect."

But we've got rationalizations:

"A lot of communities are not equipped to handle homeless men and women and children," said Kim Ferraro, vice president of development and community affairs for the Weingart Center near 5th and San Pedro streets. "This is a community known for helping the homeless."

In a related story, the Baltimore Orioles told Rafael Palmiero not to bother returning. No confirmation on whether the Baltimore Police also dump their unwanted in downtown Los Angeles.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Say God, it's a little soon for a make-up quiz

Category 5 hurricane Rita is bearing down on the Texas coast. The Governor of Texas has asked you to declare that part of Texas a federal disaster area. What do you do?
A. How close is Crawford to the coast?
B. Does anyone know Chertoff's extension?
C. There is no freaking way God would do this to me again.

Rita's pressure has dramatically dropped to 898 millibars. What does this mean?
A. It's a line from the Beatles "Lovely Rita."
B. That's the drink special in Galveston on Wednesdays.
C. Just so I'm on the same page, 1 millibar = 0.75 torr = 100 Pa, right?

The Weather Service has just told you that it is very difficult for a hurricane to maintain a Category 5 status for a lengthy period of time.
A. You note that it is true - they tend to slacken remarkably once they make landfall and destroy everything in their path.
B. Reply that near-perfect weather conditions are necessary to create a Category 5 in the first place, and well - here we are.
C. Notice that the Weather Service guys are wearing galoshes and have boxes of bottled water.

Your chief of staff alerts you that Philippe has weakened to a Tropical Storm.
A. Philippe? Really? Who names these things?
B. You walk him over to the stairway, then push him down it.
C. Sarcastically ask about all the other hurricanes out there.

If you picked C, bad move. On the other side of the landmass, there is Hurricane Jova in the eastern Pacific, Tropical Storm Kenneth (what's the frequency?), and Tropical Storm Max. [Above, photo of Tropical Storm Max gathering strength.]

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Ethiopia has to request aid first

From CNN:
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) -- A pride of lions has killed and devoured 20 villagers, wounded 10 others and eaten at least 70 cattle in southern Ethiopia in the past week, police said Tuesday.

We now turn to the White House for their reaction.

Q: What was the President's reaction?
Scott McClellan:. . . President had his usual intelligence briefing. . . . following that, we'll be going to New Orleans.
Q: The lions are in Ethiopia.
SM: We urge people in the regions that could be impacted by the hurricane to follow the advice of local and state authorities.
Q: The problem is lions.
SM: I'll get it to you later. It's an OTR event for now.
Q: What does OTR mean-
SM: I think the State Department indicated as well yesterday, if they need some more time to reflect on it, the agreement, we'll give it to them, but everybody is operating off the agreement that was signed.
Q: Does that include the lions?
SM: . . . seniors have waited long enough for prescription drugs, particularly low-income seniors.
Q: Does the Administration plan to feed them to the lions?
SM: Yes. But you ought to check with FEMA.
Q: Is there any consideration of declaring . . . an incident of national significance and triggering the national response plan?
SM: I don't think so. Okay, that's all. Thank you.

Monday, September 19, 2005

When no one was looking, New Zealand went to the polls

Reporting trackside, Saturday, 17 Sept:
It is a beautiful day for a horse race. Helen Clark of the Labour Party broke first from the gate and held on, despite a furious push by National. At the quarter mark, Labour, National, New Zealand First, Green, and Maori were bunched up. At the half-mile marker, Labour broke free with National close on their heels. National tried to close but ran out of track and Labour pulled away with the win.

The Labour leader, Helen Clark, on reelection:
I am very excited by another chance to form a coalition government, although I insist that the Maori Party eats first before they come to the negotiating table.

Post race wrap-up:
The Kiwis marched to the polls on Saturday, 17 September 2005. In a real nail-biter, the Labour Party was first past the post with 832,425 votes. The National Party was right behind them, at 809,674. Rounding out the top five were:
New Zealand First Party (119,336)
Green Party (103,617)
Maori Party (40,488)

OFF AT5:07 StartGood. Won driving. Course yielding.
TIME :23, :45©, 1:10¦, 1:35 (:23.07, :45.89, 1:10.26, 1:35.08)
$2Mutuel Prices:
1 - Labour 3.30 2.80 2.20
9 - National 13.10 6.60
8 - NZ First 5.30
$2 EXACTOR 1-9 PAID $58.00 $2 TRIACTOR 1-9-8 PAID $397.70
$1 SUPERFECTA 1-9-8-3 PAID $1,511.65

The Maori Party, for their part, reiterated their party's planks:
Mad Human Disease be fully covered by the National Health Plan
Eating their enemies, particularly the National Party, is a recognized part of their heritage
We did NOT kill the last dodo. Whitey did.

And a special announcement to all those interested in supporting theMaori Party:
Our next potluck dinner will be Friday at 7:00pm. Just bring yourself.

In other election news:
Keith Locke, Green Party foreign affairs spokesman, pledged to run naked through the streets if he lost his parliamentary seat election.

Keith lost.

The Newmarket Business Association is organizing the run down Broadway in Epsom. It's a "straight and wide strip - ideal for such exposure." Mr. Locke added, "We haven't set a date, we've got preparations to do in terms of choreography. It will be artistic and it will involve body paint."

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Vatican rodeo round-up

Just got the word from Vatican City - the U.S. is getting an apostolic visitation.

Seems that the anger of American Catholics is not fading, and the collection baskets are not getting filled, so they better make another swipe at this pedophile scandal.

According to Archbishop Edwin O'Brien, the prelate overseeing the Apostolics:
"The same-sex attractions have gotten us into some legal problems.''

And after much learned discussion, the boys in the Curia decided to conduct a seminary review (aka Apostolic Visitation).

From Reuters:
In a possible hint of the ruling's contents, the American archbishop supervising the seminary review said "anyone who has engaged in homosexual activity or has strong homosexual inclinations," should not be admitted to a seminary.

The Times said Edwin O'Brien, archbishop for the United States military who is supervising the seminary review, told The National Catholic Register that the restriction should apply even to those who have not been sexually active for a decade or more.

Interesting. I thought the criteria was celibacy, not virginity.

And in view of the celibacy requirement, if you are gay but don't have sex, isn't that like no one being around to hear a tree fall in a forest?

While they are at it, maybe the Apostolic Vistitation crew can keep an eye out for pedophiles, embezzlers, and adulterers.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Rain Delay Theater

The White Sox are at Kansas City tonight, and they made it all the way to the bottom of the 2nd before the rain showed up.

The Sox will announce tomorrow that Damaso Marte will be put on the disabled list for the rest of the season. Sure, he has a sore neck and shoulder. He was also sent home on Sunday because he showed up late. If you're a betting man (and if you're a White Sox fan, then you are), it's probably easy money that Marte will not be a Sox next year.

Rain delay theater forces you to cruise around the channels - Cincinnati at the Cubs, tied 3-3 in the 6th. The Cubs were mathematically eliminated from winning the division yesterday. Finally a ray of sunshine.
[Ed. note: At the time of this writing, the White Sox magic number is 14.]

Noticed that the baseball players are sporting a Red Cross insignia on their batting helmuts. Apparently baseball fans have contributed $6 million to the Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund.

Meanwhile, I'm having the opposite problem of New Orleans: I can't keep water in my car. The water pump sprung a slow leak. Maybe it's the same problem after all. I want to keep the water in my car; the New Orleans pumps were supposed to keep the water in the canals and Lake Pontchartrain. Instead, I'm leaking water on Stony Island, and Lake Pontchartrain annexed New Orleans. How's that for eminent domain?

In other news, the FAA noted that pigs were seen flying in the airspace of Dulles Intl Airport. President Bush announced:
"And to the extent that the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility. I want to know what went right and what went wrong,"

Fortunately, he stopped short of giving an actual apology. Greenspan had signalled that the enunciating "I'm sorry" would cause a stock market crash.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Op-Ed News has great Katrina Disaster timeline

It really shows up the Bush & Co callous disregard for a disaster in a part of the country they don't care about.

Just one of my favorite items:
Tuesday, August 30
3 p.m. – BUSH TRIES TO PLAY GUITAR WITH COUNTRY SINGER MARK WILLIS: In the photo, Willis looks like he’s trying to take the guitar back before Bush hurts himself [AP].

Look for the silver lining

Say what you will about those whacky guys running the country, but they certainly know how to make hay while the sun shines.

NY Times reports:
On Thursday, President Bush issued a proclamation suspending the law that requires employers to pay the locally prevailing wage to construction workers on federally financed projects. The suspension applies to parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

And Barbara (My Dog Millie) Bush made this keen insight:
"And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this — this is working very well for them," she said.

And from Laura Bush, maybe we'd all feel a little better if we called it Hurricane CORRINA.
Here's the video.

And don't forget Halliburton. No resume needed - we've seen the spectacular work those boys have done in Iraq. Why, let's just skip the whole bid process too.

The Army sees a bright spot:
From the Wall Street Journal (subscription only):
OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS: Ten U.S. Army recruiters are offering volunteer help for Katrina evacuees at Houston's Astrodome. But the recruiters, struggling to keep enlistment up during Iraq war, are also available with options for the jobless. "Our intent is to approach the evacuees at the right time for them,'' says Army spokesman Douglas Smith.

And maybe we know what FEMA's real role is these days: setting up and running detainment camps. Follow the above link to read a harrowing account of a detainment camp in Oklahoma.

While we're here, about that whole Alamo thing

KVUE (Austin, TX) reports:
Associated Press

SAN ANTONIO -- A Mexican Army unit Friday helped feed lunch to 3,000 Hurricane Katrina refugees in San Antonio.

The nearly 200 soldiers are part of a historic military convoy.

They received a hero's welcome yesterday as they traveled from Laredo to San Antonio in the first Mexican military presence on U.S. soil since 1846.

The Mexicans have set up a self-sustaining camp on the grounds of KellyUSA.

The troops are sleeping on cots in large tents and have two mobile kitchens, as well as medical supplies, physicians and nurses.

They plan to stay in San Antonio at least 20 days, but longer if needed.

We should have offered them the Alamo.

Always a team player, FEMA Director Michael Brown commented:

"I'm going to go home and walk my dog and hug my wife, and maybe get a good Mexican meal and a stiff margarita and a full night's sleep," Brown said.

That Brownie, what a guy.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Want to see a dead body?

Occasion: Rehnquist lying in state.
Decision: Sure, go ahead and show the flag-draped coffin. We'll even throw in Bush & wife, with some nameless stranger for good measure.

Occasion: Greatest natural disaster to strike the United States. Dead bodies everywhere.
Decision: After thinking about it, FEMA decided not to take reporters and photographers along on rescue boats because they would take up valuable space in the recovery effort. [Reuters]

Occasion: Reporters reporting on rescue efforts of National Guard units. MSNBC's Brian Williams reports:
While we were attempting to take pictures of the National Guard (a unit from Oklahoma) taking up positions outside a Brooks Brothers on the edge of the Quarter, the sergeant ordered us to the other side of the boulevard. The short version is: there won't be any pictures of this particular group of guard soldiers on our newscast tonight.

Decision: There will be NO reporting.

Occasion: BBC crew gets a boat and goes looking for stories and survivors. They find all that and more. Or less. They report:
It seems quite incredible to me that we are the only boat in a neighbourhood like this. In almost every street that we have gone into, there are people like this family with so many needs.

Decision: No, don't show that. Show this instead.

[NOLA Sgt. Smith of New Orleans in the 2800 block of Calhoun Street with a rescued cat.]

Occasion: The returning dead from the Iraq War.
Decision: What dead from the Iraq War?

[Thanks to Memory Hole.]

Monday, September 05, 2005

It's going to get easier, right?


If you really need some good news about New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, be careful what CDC sites you visit.

On the other hand, if you are going to living or working in the devastated Gulf region for the next few months (maybe years), you better check in with them.

The Center for Disease Control has a compact page entitled:
Key Facts About Hurricane Recovery.

Some of the bullet points are:
Prevent Illness from FOOD
Prevent Illness from WATER
Prevent and treat OTHER ILLNESS and INJURIES
*This section has subheadings such as:
Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning
Avoid floodwater and mosquitoes
[Ed. note: Since that is damn near impossible, then it is mandatory to find out what you expose yourself to by operating in floodwater and getting eaten by mosquitoes.*]
Avoid unstable buildings and structures
Beware of wild or stray animals

The CDC does have some good news regarding infectious diseases after a natural disaster in the United States:
- Decaying bodies create very little risk for major disease outbreaks.
- Outbreaks from infectious diseases are rare in developed countries.
- Cholera and typhoid are very unlikely

On the other hand, Laurie Garrett (Senior Fellow for Global Health, Council on Foreign Relations) sounds this alarm to her colleagues:

Members of the Infectious
Diseases Society of America, which has mobilized scientists and
physicians nationwide in readiness to respond should an outbreak
occur, have compiled this list of possible organisms to be concerned
about at this time:
Typhoid (depends on likelihood of carriers- fairly plausible)
Enterohemorrhagic E coli
Enterotoxogenic E coli
Enteroinvasive E coli
Vibrio parahemolyticus and vulnificus (including contamination of
gulf shellfish)
Clostridium perfringens
Bacillus cereus
Staphylococcal intoxication

      Other enteric-spread:
Hepatitis A
Hepatitis E
Polio (very high herd immunity)
Coxsackie and other Enteroviruses



      Vector borne:
West Nile Virus (likely to be highly problematic)
Eastern Equine Encephalitis
St. Louis Encephalitis
LaCross Encephalitis
Dengue fever (real risk)
Typhus fever (remote likelihood, last outbreak 1921)
Murine Typhus (not often major)
Trench (Quintana) fever
Relapsing fever (Borrelia recurrentis)
Plague (unlikely, non-endemic area)

      Respiratory and close contact:
Measles, mumps (herd immunity likely very high)
Pertussis (herd immunity modestly high among high-risk age

As the worm turns

[UPDATE, Sunday 4 September 2005]
I'll punch anyone who criticizes our sheriffs, including the President"
Sen. Mary Landrieu, on ABC's Sunday program "This Week" showed the paucity of federal help, including a single crane working on the levee break. The day before, for Bush's photo op, it was a buzzing with equipment and activity.

See this link for the video.

The Saturday, 3 September 2005 version of the Senator:
“But perhaps the greatest disappointment stands at the breached 17th Street levee. Touring this critical site yesterday with the President, I saw what I believed to be a real and significant effort to get a handle on a major cause of this catastrophe. Flying over this critical spot again this morning, less than 24 hours later, it became apparent that yesterday we witnessed a hastily prepared stage set for a Presidential photo opportunity; and the desperately needed resources we saw were this morning reduced to a single, lonely piece of equipment."

Senator Mary Landrieu on Thursday, 1 Sept 2005

Anderson Cooper interviewed Sen. Landrieu (D-LA), who immediately went into a spiel thanking the President, the Congress, ad nauseum, about what a great job they were all doing.

It was like listening to a Oscar award winner going on and on.

Watch the video of CNN's Anderson Cooper getting fed up with Landrieu.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Rehnquist is dead

We're in big trouble now.

New Orleans, as of Saturday 3 Sept 2005

Image hosted by Photobucket.com[AP]  New Orleans fireboat works on blaze near French Quarter.  City is nearly empty, fires are still breaking out all over city. 

New planning reality: The Feds won't be there in an emergency

Strange how Bush & Co were johnny-on-spot and seemed to know exactly how to handle the 9/11 disaster. Even FEMA had their act together that day. Now they're scurrying and trying to claim that A) this disaster couldn't possibly be anticipated (although they used that very same excuse for 9/11, and it was just as big a lie then as it is now); and B) they're doing a fine job.

Too bad no one's buying that line of [censored].

From the Chicago Tribune:
"Frustrated by the federal government's response to the crisis in New Orleans, Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley and the leaders of at least several other big cities are taking it upon themselves to bypass bureaucratic hurdles and directly assist victims of Hurricane Katrina."
Wait - there's more:
"O'Malley said yesterday that city officials will also need to rethink their emergency plans, assuming a slower response time from the National Guard and other federal agencies. 'Having the National Guard here in 48 hours is not a planning reality any more,' said O'Malley, a homeland security expert for the U.S. Conference of Mayors. 'We make a new assumption now that they won't be here from seven to 10 days.'"

[Ed. note: For those of you keeping score at home, Bush & Co have lost the mayors.]

The Washington Post reports on the airlines:
"The nation's airlines, temporarily unable to provide commercial service to hurricane-ravaged New Orleans, have been putting aside their own financial troubles to fly in supplies and bring out refugees from devastated areas. Relief flights arrived at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport at a rate of about four an hour Friday."

Even better, Delta kicked off the relief flights with Delta executives piloting a plane full of supplies to New Orleans, saw the plight of the people, and ferried 140 people back to Atlanta.

[Ed. note: Still keeping score? Even companies in bankruptcy, that are even more susceptible to rises in fuel prices, can respond immediately to a national disaster. Maybe we can get the airlines to spare a few minutes to explain to Bush & Co how to handle a crisis.]

South Africa's News24 reports on aid pledged by countries around the world:
"Offers streamed in after the United States, the world's biggest single aid donor, said it would be open to assistance though it was not making an appeal for foreign aid."

[Ed. note: Still keeping score? Check off "still got our pride!" God, our Administration is pathetic.]

Chicago, along with so many other cities and states is arranging help. The City of Chicago has offered to send emergency workers and equipment, but FEMA says they only need 1 tank truck. The Chicago Public Schools are waiving residency requirements.

[Ed. Note: Can someone stick FEMA on a shelf, out of the way, until the New Orleans Tragedy is taken care of?]

And by the way, if you think things are now hunky-dory, try this Reuters story filed 3 September 2005, 20:21:44 GMT:
"We found a young girl raped and killed in the [Superdome] bathroom," one National Guard soldier told Reuters. "Then the crowd got the man and they beat him to death."

To tell the truth, I'd rather be in Iraq

In Keith Olbermann's report on Friday, 2 Sept 2005, he quotes a National Guardsman stationed at the Superdome:
“To tell you the truth, I‘d rather be in Iraq.”

He also tells you about NBC photojournalist Tony Zumbado, who went into the New Orleans Convention Center and was wrecked by the carnage he saw here. (The link will take you to Brad's Blog, that has Zumbado's video of the Convention Center and his follow-up reporting. VIew it.)

And there's more.