Thursday, December 25, 2008

Year End CleanUp

There's pardons in the wings.  Who shall get the wings of release?

There's a baby supposed to be born, the one that would make it 'impossible' for the much-rumored mother of Trig Palin to actually be his mother.

There's the findings of the State Legislative body that Sarah Palin broke Alaska's ethics laws.  But what will come of that?

Then we recently learned that Dick Cheney knew and gave approval for torture.  And he also knew and was in part responsible for revealing Valerie Plame as a covert agent.  Will anything come of that?

Even though this year ends on a faintly hopeful note, given the results of the November election, there are quite a few lies to punish and liars to catch.  I wonder how many of these will be brought to justice in the year ahead.

Meantime, a most happy holiday to all.  Let us be grateful that we have electricity, food, shelter, and warmth over the cold days of winter.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

All in a Rush

Bush.  Pardoning turkeys and being totally out of it for any other Presidential duty.

Obama.  Holding press conferences almost daily now, answering questions in full.  Doing public service on the day before Thanksgiving.  An excellent example.

Palin.  Pardoning a turkey and making an ass out of herself given the turkey rendering going on behind her during the following press conference.

 Right wing talking heads.  Trying to generate bullcrap about Obama's picks for the various positions open.  May they die a slow, painful death.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Why We Can't Let Up on the Sarah Story

Andrew Sullivan has a spot-on article today on why we cannot get off Sarah Palin's case.
Let's be real in a way the national media seems incapable of: this person should never have been placed on a national ticket in a mature democracy. She was incapable of running a town in Alaska competently. The impulsive, unvetted selection of a total unknown, with no knowledge of or interest in the wider world, as a replacement president remains one of the most disturbing events in modern American history. That the press felt required to maintain a facade of normalcy for two months - and not to declare the whole thing a farce from start to finish - is a sign of their total loss of nerve.
Please visit The Daily Dish for his incisive article named, "Why Palin Still Matters."

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Sarah Palin Bites the Dust

Sarah Palin disagrees with those who say her campaign messages were negative.  She replies that she was just asking questions that were important—questions about Barack Obama's character and judgment.  How could he "pal around" with domestic terrorists, after all?  And for sure, Sarah said, her supporters really wanted to hear that Joe the (not) Plumber thought Obama's economic plans sounded like socialism to him.  And my goodness, this was the wrong time to experiment with socialism!  Terrorist!  Arab!  Muslim!  Socialist!  Marxist!  Kill him!  That's not negative, Sarah said.  That was just asking questions that people wanted answers to.

Sarah Palin denies she acted like a diva, and boy, she sure would like to know who would say such a thing.  She'd also like to know who told the world she didn't have a clue about Africa being a continent and all, and who spilled the beans about her greeting McCain aides wrapped in a bath towel.  She just won't even respond to the allegations of being a Wasilla hillbilly because hey, if you say that sort of thing anonymously, you can't expect her to address it at all.  And don't forget, she was completely exonerated of any wrong-doing whatsoever in Troopergate—the front page of the newspaper even said so, even though the front page of the same newspaper said exactly the opposite just a few weeks earlier.

Sarah Palin blames McCain aides for not noticing that she had this exclusive phone interview with French President Sarkozy all set up.  How could they be so incompetent?  And how was she to know it was a prank call?  He sounded French, and gosh darnit, what friendly world leader wouldn't want to have a little chat with her seeing as how she was almost the Vice President and all?  How was she supposed to know that she should've mentioned it?

There's a lot of chatter now about what happens to the Alaskan un-diva.  Can she be rehabilitated and show up again in 2012?  I don't think so, and here's why:

She is inherently lazy.  She participated in a beauty pageant in the hopes of winning prize money to pay her college tuition instead of getting a job and working her way through school.  She hired someone (for $50,000 a year) to handle the mayor-stuff in her village of 5-6000 people when she was the mayor.  She quit her job at  the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission because it involved travel and work away from home.  Even now, she would rather stay at home instead of travel to do her job as Governor of Alaska—witness the thousands of dollars of per diem she's charged.  The AK Legislature started wearing buttons saying, "Where is Sarah?" 

She thinks all it takes is prayer to be catapulted into office.  This is convenient because it means she doesn't have to prepare or learn more.  After all, she's been anointed as "the one" by the dominionists, and as long as Pastor Muthee and the rest keep praying, all she has to do is show up and file the paperwork on time.  She believes she already knows all she needs to know.  ("I know that I know that I know...") That's why she doesn't blink.

She is irredeemably provincial.  She's lived in Alaska and Idaho, two of the most red states in the union.  She is hopelessly unaware of the world as it exists outside those borders.  She only learns the names of those who can further her career directly, which explains why she didn't pause when the prankster referred to Canada's Prime Minister as Steph Carse.  Alaska is her whole world.

She is an unconscionable liar.  She denied being found in violation of Alaska ethics laws by her own state's Legislative Council.  She kept saying she refused the earmark funds for the "Bridge to Nowhere" which never got built, but she kept the funds.  She keeps denying she spent any money on a lavish wardrobe (including silk boxers and $20-40,000 more in men's wear for Todd) but the receipts keep coming in to RNC central.  She repeatedly implied that her biggest achievement as Governor was working to get a massive gas pipeline to deliver energy to the lower 48, yet the ground-breaking ceremony for this pipeline is 8-10 years away, if it even happens.

And finally, she fails to understand how woefully unprepared she still is for national office.  If she had acknowledged her shortcomings, she would have blinked in the first place... if she accepted that she needed serious schooling, she be talking about educating herself more now... if she admitted mistakes at all she wouldn't be playing the blame game.   Instead, she blames the media for raining on her parade.  She blames the Democrats for outing Joe the Plumber.  She blames the sexist people in the lower 48, saying they are not as advanced as Alaskans.  Sadly, for the GOP faithful who still see her as a viable competitor, they are doomed to be disappointed again.

Sarah, I wish we did not know ya
Like we do now, you bet'cha
I'll guarantee we'll keep an eye on ya
And we'll never ever let'cha
Hit the ballot on the national scene again.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I Can't Stop Smiling

To our President-Elect Barack Obama, you have given us cause to hope.  Do not disappoint us.  I celebrate your victory and have used a whole box of tissues following your campaign and your speeches.  I have donated to you, volunteered for you, attended rallies for you, voted for you, and now I will be watching to make sure you make good on your promises.

'Nuff said. 

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Eve Crazy Thoughts

So, why isn't there a capsule to make a woman smaller? 

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Two Words - Two Days

The blue candle is lit and slowly effusing a sweet scent, next to a street-side window.  Armed with a new (and first for me) camcorder, I've signed up for duty on November 4, as needed, through Video The Vote.  Now that it's dark, I've lit the lights inside O'Pumpkin and placed it back on the rail of the front porch.  That's O'Pumpkin's place every night between October 29 and November 5.

Be sure to vote, and then help others vote.  Our voices must be heard this time, no matter how hard some try to suppress the sound.  Two days.  Hope is alive.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fall Foliage, Voting and Chickens

By this time in October our deciduous trees are usually well done with shining golden, orange and red.  The chill autumn wind, brisk and cleansing, would have stripped the brightly colored leaf-confetti from the branches, blowing candy corn-tinted swirls across the yards and down the streets.  But on this day in late October, many leaves are still green and well-attached to their branches.  I'll call it anecdotal confirmation of global warming.

October 28, 2008 in Jefferson County, WV

But back to voting and chickens.  :)

I went to our local courthouse for early voting today — about 10:00 AM on a workday.  There was a steady stream of folks coming in the doors, with at least 30 people in line or voting at any one time.  First stop was at a table where two clerks helped sign us in, comparing our signatures with records they seemed to have on their computer screens. We then moved down the corridor to wait in line to enter a fairly small anteroom with six voting stands where we received a large two-sided ballot.  The process only slowed down when a few people finished voting at the same time and waited to return their completed optical scan ballot to the single clerk whose job it was to slip the paper ballot from its outer jacket into the reader and then pronounce, "Congratulations, you've just voted."

The fellow who was sitting by the entry, separating voters from other courthouse visitors and pointing them to the end of the early voting line, told me the turnout has been much larger than he's ever seen. I hope that is a good sign.

While there, I verified when and where the poll tapes would be posted, and plan to return (on November 5th) to take a photo of the results from the machines.  

But tell me if this isn't at least a little strange — at the top of the ballot we had the option to vote for a straight party ticket.  Here's what those ovals and descriptions looked like:

Image from 56th District, Jefferson Co., WV ballot

The Republican Party has a proud, wings-outstretched eagle, the icon of American patriotism.  The Mountain Party has an emblem depicting, well, mountains, as in 'purple mountain majesties,' and all that.  But the Democratic Party gets ... a chicken?  An indignant chicken even?  There's no pronounced comb or wattle befitting a rooster, so it must be a chicken.  Call me silly, but I have to wonder who is responsible for this imagery.  What's wrong with elephants and donkeys?

I don't understand how West Virginia became a red state.  It never used to be.  We have two Democratic Senators and a Democratic Governor.  Yes, well, my congressional district does have Republican S.M. Capito but I'm hopeful her Democratic opponent can unseat her.  Half the local races for positions like County Clerk, Sheriff, and Judge didn't even have Republican contenders.

On the way home I took comfort in noting that my neighborhood's Obama signs clearly outnumber the McCain ones.  I spotted two new Obama signs today, one at the house right across the street from me.  Now if the leaves would only turn color and drift down, we chickens would be able to rake up some fun piles to scratch in.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Only on Fox

I don't usually browse Fox Web sites.  But I ran across this image and just found it striking -- and sorry, ladies, I'm not referring to your smiling blonde heads.  Well, not individually that is.  But there are five of you, and the similarity is, frankly, striking!

I suppose Hemmer gets top billing because of his last name.  Alphabetical, right? Not some subtle message about male superiority.  Or even masculine wet dreams about multiple femmes.

But seriously, Fox -- these "reporters" are supposed to bring us fair and balanced coverage?  It looks like your hiring practices could stand a little scrutiny.  When I walk around my small town, I see all kinds of faces, but never five in a row the same!  Not even five in a year the same!

And ladies, have you no shame?  Or self-pride?  Or individuality?

Friday, September 05, 2008

What If Sarah Fails a Background Check?

Photo of Sarah Palin on the night of her acceptance speech at the RNC.

According to CBS and other sources, the McCain campaign added Sarah Pailin's name to the list at a late date and the FBI did not perform a background check before she was picked as the Vice Presidential nominee.

Now that she has officially accepted the nomination, what happens if further checks turn up something awkward, or illegal, or even questionable?  Can she be un-nominated?  Would the McCain campaign send her back to Alaska?  Would the campaign even let us know about it?

On another blog somewhere, I read a comment that went like this:
What does it say about our media when we have to go to the National Enquirer for facts about politicians?  They earned some 'street cred' by staying on and being right about the John Edwards affair story.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Hey, Sarah Palin...

My abiding thanks to the YouTuber who published this video. What a wonderful, amazing response to the snide snark by the Republican's VP nominee in her speech at the RNC last night. In case you missed it, Sarah had the convention-goers ROFL when she said,
I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer -pause- except that you have actual responsibilities.
The main problem with that statement is, aside from the fact it totally disses the dedicated, caring, compassionate work of so many who volunteer their time or work for very low pay to help others, that Sarah herself hired a deputy director to handle the Mayor's office in Wasilla, thereby insulating herself from any direct responsibility. Why am I not surprised that she's a GOP hypocrite?

If you haven't already, visit Mudflats blog for a straightforward peek into who Sarah Palin is.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

McCain Picks Palin: Lots of Real Stories

Depending on who you read, you'll get a different angle on what "the real story" is around the Republican nominee's VP pick. Here are just a few, accompanied by an image of Sarah Palin in Feb. 2008, reportedly 6+ months pregnant:
Sarah Palin in February 2008, 6 months pregnant.
  1. Sarah Palin's family values
    • Endangering her unborn child with Down Syndrome, about to be born prematurely, by flying cross-country instead of seeking qualified medical care once her water broke
    • Revealing to the world that her 17 yr old unwed daughter was pregnant, in order to counter viral internet rumors suggesting she had faked her pregnancy to cover the 17 yr old's pregnancy (let that one sink in a bit)
    • Accepting the McCain campaign's offer to become the vice presidential candidate, a stressful and demanding role, instead of personally taking care of her special needs infant, her 7 yr old daughter, her 14 yr old daughter, and her pregnant 17 yr old daughter
  2. Sarah Palin's ethics
    • Alleged abuse of power as Mayor, firing two city officials and pushing two other city officials out for supporting her opponent in the mayoral election
    • Alleged abuse of power as Governor, firing the state's chief law enforcement official because he would not buckle under pressure to fire a state trooper who was involved in a bitter custody battle with her sister
    • Alleged abuse of power as Governor, summarily firing her own legislative liaison at the request of her husband who was distressed because the man was dating the soon to be ex-wife of the husband's friend
    • Allegedly hacked into fellow Alaskan Oil and Gas Commission member's computer, obtaining 'dirt' on the member who was later fined for doing party work on government computers
    • Alleged use of Mayor's office computers to do political work in her unsuccessful bid for lieutenant governor in 2002
  3. Sarah Palin's ability to govern well
    • Hiring a deputy administrator to run the mayor's office for her, and leaving the town $20 million in debt when she left
    • Disbanding the state's Agricultural Board because one of their subcommittees made recommendations she disagreed with, and hiring a new Board that ended up making the same recommendations, after costing the state an additional $900,000
    • Replacing Alaska's public safety commissioner (whom she fired) with a man who had to resign two weeks later due when his sexual harassment history emerged, and then giving this man a $10,000 (or $15,000, I've heard both) separation paycheck
  4. Sarah Palin's education and life experience
    • Holding only a BS in journalism (1987), with no evidence of continuing education
    • Obtaining a passport for the first time in 2007 for her only trip overseas to date
  5. Sarah Palin's religious influence
    • Exhorting members of her church to pray for a gas pipeline because it was God's will that the pipeline go through
    • Supporting teaching creationism in public schools
    • Attempting to get certain books (on evolution?) banned from her local library while she was Mayor
    • Believing that the US Military is doing God's work in Iraq
  6. Sarah Palin's job history
    • 1988—briefly worked as a sports reporter
    • 1992-1995—Wasilla city council member
    • 1996-2001—Mayor of Wasilla (pop. 5469 in 2000)
    • 2003—Chair of Alaska Oil and Gas Commission, but then resigned
    • 2003-2005—one of 3 directors of a 527 PAC supporting Ted Stevens
    • December 2006-present—Governor of Alaska
  7. Sarah Palin's honesty
    • Ran for Governor on a "build-the-bridge" platform, but after Congress rescinded the earmark, claimed that she was the one who told Congress no thanks on "the bridge to nowhere"
    • Claimed that no one in the Governor's office had pressured anyone to fire the state trooper (her sister's ex-husband) but later admitted it when e-mails and recorded conversations were released
  8. Sarah Palin and "Country First"
    • Associating with the Alaska Independence Party for more than a decade, addressing their convention from her Governor's desk with words of support and encouragement
    • Happy about her candidacy because it will be "great for Alaska"
  9. John McCain's wisdom (or absence thereof)
    • Campaign didn't go through routine vetting process
    • McCain met her once
    • FBI didn't vet her either
In other Alaska news, attorneys for embattled Senator Ted Stevens will try to keep certain audio tapes from the jury—saying the FBI illegally wiretapped an Alaska oil contractor and just happened to get Ted on tape 105 times. The irony is delicious.

P.S. Here's a truly terrific blog about Alaska, and Sarah Palin in particular!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Watch the Sleight of Hand

Here we have John McCain under fire for failing to fully vet his recent VP pick.  Sarah Palin came on stage bragging about her "maverick-ness" in challenging the status quo.  As it turns out, she supported the "bridge to nowhere" before she opposed it.  Sarah Palin came on stage touting her fundamentalist Christian values.  But that was before the blogosphere investigated, and eventually Sarah had to admit that her 16-17 yr old daughter, unwed, was pregnant.

Don't count on the speakers at the disrupted (thanks to hurricane Gustav) convention to bring up either of these points.  And you can bet they will steer clear of the fact that VP nominee Sarah Palin had to hire lawyers in the probe about her abuse of power when firing Walt Monegan.  There are at least 3 more examples of Palin's vindictiveness and abuse to back it up.

But instead, the Republican National Convention will once again try to tie in 9/11 as a reason to vote Republican.   As many of us already know, the elevation of 9/11 to its sacrosanct position is pure theatre.  And even if 9/11 was not the egregious hoax that it was, Ms. Palin and Mr. McCain had precious little to do with the events of that day.

Maybe we should just call the Republicans the 9/11 party -- the people who perpetrated it, who promoted it, who let it happen, and who benefited from it immensely.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Palin, Trig, and Baldwin-Johnson

A few days ago John McCain announced his surprise Vice Presidential candidate: first-term Governor from Alaska, Sarah Palin. While most of us were scratching our heads asking, "why?" others began busily taking a look at just who Sarah might be.

Lying About Abuse of Power
One of the first things that turned up was a potential debacle concerning an abuse of power charge resulting from what looks to be Sarah's unjustifiable firing of Alaska's public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan. Governor Sarah, her husband Todd, and members of her gubernatorial staff tried to pressure the commissioner to fire her sister's ex-husband, an Alaska State Trooper named Mike Wooten. When Walt wouldn't get rid of the trooper, Sarah got rid of Walt. Audio tapes and e-mails now show that Walt was pressured to fire Mike, even though Sarah initially denied any interference. You can find detailed information about this ongoing investigation online, using keywords: Wooten, Monegan, Palin. TPM Muckraker has a detailed write-up on the scandal.

Pretending Motherhood?
The next thing that turned up is a rumor that has been floating around Alaska for a few months. It has to do with the Governor's surprise 5th pregnancy and the rather strange circumstances surrounding the birth of Trig Paxson Van Palin, now a 4-month old infant with Down syndrome. The rumor goes something like this: the Governor is not the mother as she claims, but the grandmother of the baby. The mother of the baby is the Governor's daughter, Bristol. Bristol, now 17, is seen in recent campaign videos holding Trig in a tender, motherly embrace.

I honestly don't know about this — whether Sarah or Bristol or someone else entirely gave birth to the baby. But I started looking up information about the birth story itself.

Risky Behavior
March 2008: Sarah publicly announces that she is 7 months pregnant. The announcement shocked everyone — reporters, friends, and people in the Governor's office that she worked with daily. To a person, everyone expressed disbelief, since the Governor didn't look at all pregnant.

April 2008: Sarah tells this story to the media. She was supposed to give a keynote address in Texas on Thursday, April 17, 2008, so she flew from Alaska down to Texas. At 4:00 AM on the 17th she notices she is leaking amniotic fluid. At this point, she is 8 months pregnant. Such a sign is never welcome, as it portends possible fetal distress and a premature birth. However, Sarah is adamant that she wants to deliver her keynote address so she stays in Texas and gives her luncheon speech. She says she called her doctor and the doctor said, okay.

After the speech is over, she reschedules her return flight and heads back to Alaska. Again, she says she called her doctor and the doctor said, okay. She takes off on a commercial jet that afternoon. The jet makes one stopover and she arrives back in Alaska around 10:30 PM that night. Then, she and her husband drive another 45 minutes to the Mat-Su Medical Center, a small, regional hospital near Wasilla, Alaska, where she checks in. Her doctor decides to induce labor and Trig is born around 6:00 AM on the 18th. The birth is announced in local news articles.

More Than Just a Doctor-Patient Relationship
Sarah's doctor, Cathy Baldwin-Johnson, is a family practice physician. Baldwin-Johnson was named the 2002 Family Physician of the Year by the American Academy of Family Physicians, after being recommended by Sarah Palin, then mayor of Wasilla. In 2007, as governor, Sarah created the Alaska Health Care Strategies Planning Council and appointed Baldwin-Johnson to this important planning council.

The doctor practices her specialty (which I find very interesting WRT the baby-gate rumors) in a clinic she founded, the Providence Matanuska Health Care center.
Today, Baldwin-Johnson spends most of her days at Providence Matanuska Health Care center, a 38-employee facility she founded, but which became affiliated with Providence three years ago. She also spends at least a half-day per week volunteering at The Children's Place, a nonprofit organization with six paid employees that opened in March of 1999 after two years of planning.

Much of her work there involves working with children coming from physical- or sexual-abuse backgrounds. Baldwin-Johnson has received special training in working with children of abuse. Her interest in working with abused children stemmed from what she was seeing in her medical practice.

"Family physicians not only see children that perhaps have been physically or sexually abused or neglected, but also they see the long-term effects (of that abuse). There are a lot of pregnant and parenting teen-agers with a history of maltreatment, especially sexual abuse." [my emphasis]
I've been unable to confirm if Baldwin-Johnson is affiliated with the Mat-Su Medical Center. For some reason their Physicians page won't load for me. [9-1-2008 Update: the whole site is down today.] What I find interesting is that Mat-Su does not show Trig's birth on their birth announcement page and the doctor doesn't seem to have expertise in premature Down syndrome babies, and the hospital was not equipped with a neonatal intensive care unit which one would hope to have available when a Down syndrome baby is born, especially when born prematurely.

No End to Questions
I'm not sure what all this might mean. But, why would 44-yr-old Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska, risk serious complications by traveling so far, so late in her pregnancy? Why did her doctor give her the go-ahead? Why would she ask a family physician whose expertise seems to be with sexually-abused children to handle a risky birth of a Down syndrome baby, instead of seeing an OB-GYN with more specific experience? Why does Sarah go out of her way to travel to a rural hospital that doesn't have facilities to handle premature babies, when she knows there may be life-threatening birth complications? Surely she had the resources to go to the best facility Alaska (or Texas for that matter) had to offer! Why does the birth not show on the Mat-Su Medical Center's register? And why would she take this premature special needs infant to work with her 3 days after the birth?

One or two oddities does not a big deal make. But the story as told just does not add up. There are too many anomalies.

I'll leave aside for now my personal thoughts about a mother of 5 jumping in to a presidential campaign that, if successful, would transport her from Governor of a low-population state to Vice President of the United States.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Writing Reports, NIST Style


Here's an anatomy of the NIST's 115-page WTC7 final report. They use two pages to tell us what happened, and 14 pages to show pictures generated from their computer simulations. Don't miss the 4 pages where they put in disclaimers about the simulations! I found precious little "beef" anywhere in the 115 pages.

Number of PagesDescription
38Preface including disclaimers, contributors and contractors, dedication, table of contents, abstract, list of figures and tables, list of acronyms, executive summary, etc., etc.
17Historical World Trade Center information, WTC 7's structure, occupancy by floor, and NIST's best guesses about what floors were on fire when, and how the fire moved around.
2NIST describes "Probable Collapse Sequence."
2NIST lays out the hypothesis they ended up proving.
2NIST does its best to debunk a commonly held hypothesis.
14NIST treats us to a lengthy discussion about the computer simulations they used to prove their initial hypothesis.
4-1/2NIST adds disclaimers re: the results of their computer simulations.
1/2NIST shows its math for calculating the actual speed of fall for a few stories of WTC 7 at the beginning of the collapse, and compares it with free-fall speed.
14These pages recap the findings.
10NIST provides recommendations based on their findings.
11Finally, these many pages are devoted to appendices and references.

Friday, August 22, 2008

WTC7 Coverup - Thermal Bullcrap

Had the latest NIST report actually investigated the collapse of WTC7, we may rest easier with their conclusions that a heretofore unknown process for bringing down steel-framed skyscrapers was in any way valid: fire-induced thermal expansion.

But they didn't.

Nist claims that they took a cursory look at a controlled demolition scenario. But what they did -- all they did -- was to dismiss the possibility because it was untenable. Why? Their only reason was that an explosion of sufficient size to blow column 79 (their key critical core column) would have caused a sound event that they were unable to verify actually happened.

All you have to do is Google "WTC7 Explosions" to find multiple videos recounting explosions in World Trade Center 7. Eyewitness accounts. Actual video taken on the day. There is no dearth of reports of explosions in WTC7, starting from before... yes BEFORE ... the twin towers even fell.

But hey, NIST was unable to find any of those accounts or videos, so they were left with the supposition that building 7 had to have collapsed by some mechanism previously undocumented.

With all due respect to Dr. Shyam Sunder and his contractors (which included Larry Silverstein and his development group), it is painfully obvious that they were overtly instructed to find a different conclusion from the most obvious one: controlled demolition.

They go so far as to say, hey! what we found looks just like controlled demolition but ... lookie here, it really isn't! It's really uhhh fires, regular office fires, uhhh... see here, column 79, got baked man, and heck, once that happened, the result was uhhh... total failure, into a neat pile! I mean, believe me, I work for the Government!

Forgive me for doubting.

NIST did not ever examine any physical evidence. NIST did not explain the dozens of witnesses who heard explosions. NIST did not ever view (or explain, if they did) the dozens of videos that clearly show explosions. NIST did not ever examine the forensic evidence gathered by other researchers (to wit, Dr. Stephen Jones). NIST did not build any scale models, they did it all by computer simulations. NIST took 7 years to foist this bastard of a report on us.

Lately, tptb are growing in their arrogance and their outrageousness. They know we have no WMD to strike them back with.

Or do we?

WTC7 Thermal Expansion Hoax: NIST Disses 9/11 Truthers

Remember, Remember, 11th September

There are some images of the impossible destruction on 9/11 that I can't forget. Here's an aerial view of the rubble taken a couple days after the event.

The smoke is still rising from the piles of both towers and building 7, in spite of firemen spraying millions of gallons of water on the heaps of debris. You can see severe damage to the building at the lower left, and more holes torn into the roof of the building at the lower right. The buildings across the street however (Verizon on the upper left, and the Post Office on the upper right) appear relatively unscathed -- except for the one in between. That's the remains of WTC7, the first and only steel-framed building over 10 stories to be totally destroyed by office fires and a "new phenomenon" NIST calls "fire-induced thermal expansion."

Here's a color-coded image identifying the remains:

Then and Now
Early theories about the demise of WTC7, put forward by Popular Mechanics in a March, 2005 cover story, and supported with statements from Dr. Shyam Sunder, supposed that serious damage caused by Tower 1's explosive collapse turned building 7 into a wreck just waiting to fall down. We have yet to see any photos revealing such extensive damage but Popular Mechanics said they saw them in a private showing. We were supposed to take their word for it. I always wondered how the Verizon building and the Post Office escaped similar damage from Tower 1's energetic debris. And then, I wondered why those two buildings showed no damage from the implosion of WTC7 either.

As we're told now, by the same Dr. Shyam Sunder, all that was needed to totally destroy this 47-storey steel skyscraper and make it look just like a controlled demolition, was an office fire on a few floors. NIST claims that those fires weakened the connection between a beam and a critical northeast core column. This initiated a domino effect resulting in first one, then several floors giving way. That left the critical core column unsupported over the span of 9 floors, so it buckled causing more floors and beams to break loose above, and then like dominos, the other 80 columns went along for the ride in rapid succession wherein the whole building fell down.

Dr. Sunder reassures us that they've got it right this time. "The public should really recognize the science is really behind what we have said," he said, adding: "The obvious stares you in the face."


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Final NIST Report on WTC7: Color Me Unconvinced

WTC7 on the afternoon of 9/11/2001

After nearly 7 years of investigation, the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology), charged with producing reports explaining how the World Trade Center buildings were destroyed, held a press conference today announcing the publication of a final report on WTC7 (pdf) -- the third building in the New York City complex that inexplicably collapsed in 7 seconds late in the afternoon of 9/11/2001.

From today's press release (emphasis mine):
The fall of the 47-story World Trade Center building 7 (WTC 7) in New York City late in the afternoon of Sept. 11, 2001, was primarily due to fires, the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced today following an extensive, three-year scientific and technical building and fire safety investigation. This was the first known instance of fire causing the total collapse of a tall building, the agency stated as it released for public comment its WTC investigation report and 13 recommendations for improving building and fire safety.
Reasons for WTC7's collapse have been touted, over the years, by Popular Mechanics, FEMA, and NIST itself. A favorite debunking theory was that debris from the exploding towers caused excessive, critical damage to WTC7. Here's what Popular Mechanics said to debunk "conspiracy theorists." Note that PM quotes Shyam Sunder, the same fellow who gave the press briefing today:
The most important thing we found was that there was, in fact, physical damage to the south face of building 7," NIST's Sunder tells PM. "On about a third of the face to the center and to the bottom — approximately 10 stories — about 25 percent of the depth of the building was scooped out." NIST also discovered previously undocumented damage to WTC 7's upper stories and its southwest corner.
Well, in today's announcement, we hear:
Finally, the report notes that "while debris impact from the collapse of WTC 1 initiated fires in WTC 7, the resulting structural damage had little effect in causing the collapse of WTC 7."
How conveeeenient! Now the photographs of this excessive south side damage that Popular Mechanics claimed they alone were privileged to see no longer have to be produced...!

In it's initial report, FEMA postulated that "a fire fed by fuel oil caused the collapse" and suggested that the cantilevered construction over the power station was a contributing factor in WTC7's demise. At least FEMA acknowledged that more study needed to take place (emphasis mine):
The loss of the east penthouse on the videotape suggests that the collapse event was initiated by the loss of structural integrity in one of the transfer systems. Loss of structural integrity was likely a result of weakening caused by fires on the 5th to 7th floors. The specifics of the fires in WTC 7 and how they caused the building to collapse remain unknown at this time. Although the total diesel fuel on the premises contained massive potential energy, the best hypothesis has only a low probability of occurrence. Further research, investigation, and analyses are needed to resolve this issue.
Yet today, NIST tosses this notion into oblivion:

“Video and photographic evidence combined with detailed computer simulations show that neither explosives nor fuel oil fires played a role in the collapse of WTC 7,” Sunder said. The NIST investigation team also determined that other elements of the building’s construction—namely trusses, girders and cantilever overhangs that were used to transfer loads from the building superstructure to the columns of the electric substation (over which WTC 7 was constructed) and foundation below—did not play a significant role in the collapse.

Instead, we are told that ordinary office fires "burned out of control" (see picture above) and created enough heat to expand steel beams which eventually caused Floor 13 (unlucky floor, eh what?) to lose its connection, and then in domino-like fashion, all the other columns and beams simultaneously failed resulting in a total collapse. In 6.5 seconds. In a neat pile. Totally symmetric. Read it and weep:
Determining the probable collapse sequence for WTC 7, NIST found that the impact of debris from the collapse of WTC 1 ignited fires on at least 10 floors of WTC 7, and the fires burned out of control on six lower floors. The heat from these uncontrolled fires caused thermal expansion of the steel beams on the lower floors of the east side of WTC 7, damaging the floor framing on multiple floors. Eventually, a girder on Floor 13 lost its connection to a critical interior column that provided support for the long floor spans on the east side of the building. The displaced girder and other local fire-induced damage caused Floor 13 to collapse, beginning a cascade of floor failures down to the fifth floor. Many of these floors had already been at least partially weakened by the fires in the vicinity of the critical column. This collapse of floors left the critical column unsupported over nine stories.

“When this critical column buckled due to lack of floor supports, it was the first domino in the chain,” Sunder explained. “What followed in rapid succession was a progression of structural failures. Failure first occurred all the way to the roof line—involving all three interior columns on the most eastern side of the building. Then, progressing from east to west across WTC 7, all of the columns in the core of the building failed. Finally, the entire façade collapsed.”
I wonder if there is any other possible explanation for a rapid onset for the failures of 81 core and perimeter columns? (Like some helper mechanism to dismember the structural support?) We have to recognize that there are certain paths NIST would not walk. And since the physical evidence has been destroyed, there can be no conclusive finding from any outside investigation.

How conveeeeenient.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Innocent Explanation for Ivins' "False Anthrax Sample"

Short Facts

The FBI and most of the media continue to claim that Dr. Bruce Ivins submitted false anthrax samples designed to mislead investigators -- therefore, this goes to show that Ivins must be guilty of mailing the anthrax letters. If true, this would be fairly strong, although circumstantial, piece of evidence. If untrue, I think we can reasonably accuse the FBI of trying to mislead us.

In February 2002 the FBI asked for anthrax samples from flask RMR-1029 in Bruce Ivins' lab. Ivins provided two; one went to the FBI (they subsequently destroyed it) and the backup sample went to scientist Paul Keim in New Mexico. These samples were smears, or a representation of the entire set of cultures in the flask. After destroying the first sample, the FBI asked Ivins for another sample, which he provided early in April. The instructions were given verbally, and the subpoena with written details on the required protocol was not delivered until May 2002, a month or more later. The sample Ivins provided this (second) time was a pure culture sample instead of a smear. Remember, he had already provided a smear.

The FBI now says the first sample was prepared in such a way that it would make for poor evidence in court, and that is why they threw it away. (Is this believable?) The FBI also now says the second sample was false, that is, not from the RMR-1029 flask, because it did not contain the newly discovered genetic markers unique to the anthrax used in the attacks. (Are all the king's horses and all the king's men unable to distinguish a smear culture from a pure culture? Apparently so. Otherwise, at the time, they would have asked Ivins for another specimen or gone and gotten a replacement smear culture sample themselves.)

The second sample was a pure sample cultured from the dominant strain in this flask of mixed cultures. Of course it didn't match the initial sample precisely. Years later, the FBI remembered there was a backup of the original sample provided by Ivins, and they retrieved it from Keim. Surprise, surprise, it had the newly-significant genetic markers. It was exactly what Ivins had given them in the first place.

Do I need to point out how ridiculous this "proof of guilt" is? It looks to me like Dr. Bruce Ivins was doing his best to help the FBI, when it was the FBI itself who trashed his first sample and miscommunicated what they wanted for the second sample. So, who is really misleading who? (Related documentation with links below.)

FBI Supports Request for Search Warrant (pdf)

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigation ... has led to the identification of Dr. Bruce Edward Ivins... as a person necessitating further investigation for several reasons: ... (4) Ivins is believed to have submitted false samples of anthrax from his lab to the FBI for forensic analysis in order to mislead investigators...

USA Today Still Headlines False Sample Story

Ivins submitted a second sample in April — one that court papers say was intended to mislead investigators. That sample did not contain the specific genetic markers of the anthrax used in the attacks.

LA Times Repeats False Sample Claim

Ivins, recruited to assist the FBI, had failed in February 2002 to provide an anthrax sample, known as RMR-1029, as requested by a bureau agent. The FBI did not obtain the RMR-1029 from within the Ft. Detrick laboratory complex where Ivins worked until two years later, when an agent took possession of a flask holding that material.

NPR Repeats, Then Questions Claim

(4) Ivins is believed to have submitted false samples of anthrax from his lab to the FBI for forensic analysis in order to mislead investigators;

That is a far cry from the picture Justice Department officials painted Wednesday. They say Ivins not only dodged their inquiries, but also tried to outright "mislead" investigators. They say Ivins submitted false anthrax samples from his lab to throw off investigators.

In one instance, the documents say, investigators asked Ivins for a specific sample of anthrax they needed. Ivins gave a sample, but when they went to the lab themselves and took the sample, it did not match what Ivins had given them. When they confronted Ivins, the documents say, he denied it was true.

Kemp says when investigators asked Ivins for an anthrax sample, he thought they were asking for a pure culture sample. It wasn't until six weeks later that they called and said they had wanted something else.

Christian Science Monitor Buys FBI Story

Yet the FBI had requested a sample from a flask of anthrax spores which Ivins held as early as 2002. In April 2004, after discovering that the samples Ivins submitted in fact had not come from the requested flask, RMR-1029, an FBI agent accompanied Ivins into a biocontainment suite at Fort Detrick to seize the flask.

Daily Princetonian Attempts to Counter

The documents allege that Ivins sought to mislead investigators, claiming the anthrax used in the attacks was different from the batch maintained in his laboratory and giving them false samples of anthrax from his laboratory. They also say Ivins had mental health issues and sent a suspicious e-mail a few days before the anthrax attacks with similar wording to the laced letters.

But Kemp said it is actually government officials who are making misleading statements and failing to mention that Ivins passed two polygraph tests in 2002.

"He submitted proper samples in February," he said. "The government lost one, and the other was sent to a lab in New Mexico, and the government can trace it right back to his lab."

NPR Conducts In-Depth Interview With Ivins' Attorney

NPR: One of the things that came out of this idea that they can link the spore sample exactly to Ivins was that he also misled the FBI. There was this big thing in Wednesday's press conference about how they had asked for a sample from him, and that when they went out themselves and took the sample, that in fact it was different from what Ivins had given them.

Kemp: So many problems with that statement. It's hard to know where to begin. No. 1, I'll try and be organized in this, he provided a sample in 2002, the month of February of 2002. He provided it in a way that he thought matched their directions that at that point were orally given.

There really were, I believe, two different vials or preparations, slides, I think they're called, and he did it in a way that ultimately matches their written protocol for the preparation of these slides. One of them is delivered to the government, and they either lose it or destroy it. The second one is sent to a well-known scientist, somebody on a caliber with Dr. Ivins, in terms of this kind of thing. Paul Keim is his name, now at the Northern Arizona State University, at that point from the University of New Mexico. And he has it, maintains it. It's available for analysis, and when the government loses their slide or destroys it, they do go to the slide that Dr. Keim has, and are able to make the analysis from that.

So, that's the story, as to the February one. Not only did he not falsify the submission of samples, this is a government screw-up, for the February sample.

In the April sample, here's what they contend is wrong. They contend that the nature of the slide he prepared was improperly taken from RMR-1029, that they wanted him to prepare a smear sample of the entire set of cultures in the beaker. What they say he submitted is what's called a "pure culture" sample. And to understand that, you have to know what these things look like.

If you examine grossly, meaning with the naked eye, the anthrax that is prepared in a petri dish, an open glass petri dish, you might extract some of this stuff from the beaker — you can't really work with the beaker because it has a narrow top — so you take it out and put it in a wide petri dish and you let it grow in an agar substance.

And it ferments and grows upon itself. There will be little globules of anthrax in a harmless form, it's like wet oatmeal or something like that, and you can dip down and take each globule, or a representative set of globules — that's called taking a "pure culture" sample.

What they wanted him to do with that open petri dish was to take a smear across them all. And that's what he did the first time. He submitted a smear sample, it was properly done.

The second time, he did the pure culture sample and sent it in. That should have been readily apparent to them, as soon as it was received. They don't get to it for a long time. RMR-1029 was there. It has never been adulterated. It has never been tampered with. Why didn't they go back and say, "You took a pure culture sample, can you take a smear sample?" Why didn't they go back and take a smear sample themselves? So that's a long-winded way to the first point.

Second point, he's polygraphed twice, during the same year. They ask him, you know, "Have you told us all you know about this? Are you hiding any evidence?" as part of these normal polygraphs, but also that are directed by the investigators here.

They now discount the reliability of his passing in the polygraphs because it was conducted by the Defense Department, not by the Justice Department. And so we're left with this disparagement of the Defense Department, the same way Mr. Taylor disparaged the Defense Department yesterday during his news conference, saying, in a backhanded way, "Well, that's a matter for the Defense Department," namely, why was he allowed to continue working at the lab, with full access to these pathogens, right up to the end of the investigation?

NPR: So in your mind, this idea that the FBI came to him and said, "We need this specific sample," and that it was some kind of test and that he sent in something different, it just has no credence?

Kemp: It is unbelievable to me that in, I guess the second-highest-profile case going on at the time, the first highest-profile case being the Sept. 11 attacks, in this time frame, that they wouldn't go take the sample themselves or direct him to do it while one of their agents watch him.

The final point, the biggest point: He doesn't get the written protocol as to how to submit the samples until May 24 of 2002. The sample was submitted at their direction on April 10 of 2002. They'll say, in defense of that screw-up, that he was present at a meeting at which they think it was discussed, that, "We want you to take smear samples."

That to me is inconceivable. It's part of an investigation of a case of this significance. All of that is beside the point. He'd already submitted a proper sample at the beginning of February, I forget the exact date, in February of 2002. And they lost the slide, or destroyed it. I don't know which. But [U.S. Attorney Ken] Kohl can tell you.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Of Conspiracies and Theories

"Let us never tolerate outrageous conspiracy theories..." ~ George W. Bush

Everybody knows conspiracy theorists are crazy people. They wear tinfoil hats. They are idiots and morons who should be shut up, if not locked up. They come up with ridiculous reasons for events that are already satisfactorily explained by people in positions of authority in our Government and Media. They have the gall to keep asking questions and raising doubts. They're never satisfied!

Anyone who has been awake over the last several years knows that people in positions of authority in our Government and Media try to manipulate us and purposely mislead us. They busily rewrite history and even tell us outright lies with straight faces.

But conspiracy nuts are looney kooks. Everyone in their right mind knows that. Why should we concern ourselves with any of their conspiracy babbling, or spend time looking at questions those fools keep asking? After all, people in positions of authority in our Government and Media wouldn't do anything to harm us. They can be trusted to act in our best interests. It's downright hateful and anti-patriotic to think otherwise.

People in positions of authority in our Government and Media have floated several theories concerning Bruce Ivins' motives to mail anthrax. What makes their theories any more believable than the theories espoused by others? What makes one theory credible and another theory unthinkable? When does a theory become a "conspiracy theory," and therefore outlandish?

We owe it to ourselves to don a tinfoil hat and ask questions of our Government and Media when they say, "Trust us."

Friday, August 15, 2008

Doubts About Bruce Ivins as Anthrax Mailer

image of anthrax letter sent to Senators Daschle and Leahy in October 2001

I'll be very surprised if it turns out that Dr. Bruce Ivins was the sole perpetrator of the anthrax letters. Here are a few reasons:
  1. Who benefited from the scare? Not Ivins.
  2. Who had a supportable motive? Not Ivins.
  3. Who had access to the equipment to produce the highly concentrated, 99% pure, military grade polyglass-coated spores (found in the Daschle and Leahy letters)? Not Ivins.
  4. Who had the know-how to produce this weaponized material? Not Ivins.
  5. Who can be placed at the scene where any of the hoax or real anthrax letters were mailed? Not Ivins.

The attempt to convict Ivins posthumously, in the press, is supported largely by an unsubstantiated report from a drug-addiction counselor (who had repeated convictions for DUI and was a home detention 'inmate' on the date Ivins' reportedly made threats in front of her group therapy session). She told the court in a peace order hearing that psychiatrists had diagnosed Ivins as a sociopathic revenge killer bent on homicide who had killed before. There is NO independent confirmation of this anywhere.

The FBI says, "Trust us, we got the right guy this time." I'm not buying it.

Cui bono?

Those in the government who were pressing for military aggression in the Middle East. Those who wanted to elevate the fear level of Arabs in general, Muslims in particular. Those who profited from the sales of Cipro and other drugs to treat anthrax infection.

Who had a motive?

See Cui bono.

Who had access to the highly specialized equipment?

Those persons working to develop (probably not legally, either) bio weapons. That's not what USAMRIID did, where Bruce Ivins worked. His lab developed vaccines to prevent anthrax infection, and didn't even use powdered anthrax in his work -- his challenge bacteria was in liquid form, as was the now-infamous vial of RMR-1029.

Who had the know how?

The same persons who had access to the equipment, the same persons who had been working for years on developing particularly nasty strains of bacillus anthracis for weapon use.

Who can be placed at the scenes of the mailings?

We know Bruce Ivins can't. Hatfill came close. Until we see how the FBI eliminated their 'universe' of other persons who might have had access to the anthrax, we'll never know.

Important reading on this topic:

from Glenn Greenwald
from Dr. Meryl Nass

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

We Are Not at War

Let's call our military presence in Iraq what it is: an illegal occupation of a foreign country.

We had no beef with the Iraqi people, even if 9/11 went down the way the Bush administration tells it (it didn't). We had no beef with Saddam either, except that he was about to trade his oil in a currency other than the US Dollar. Yet we have been killing, displacing and poisoning the Iraqi people since March 2003.

If there is a real terrorist hiding among the Iraqi freedom fighters, he's there only because we are there. He wasn't there before we invaded Iraq. He'll probably be driven out by the Iraqis themselves when we leave. And what gives us the right to usurp Iraq's land and call it the "major front in the War on Terror" anyway? How would we like it if another country invaded the US so that their enemies would come here to fight them? And in the process destroy our infrastructure, ruin our economy, kill our civilians, and drive millions of us out of our own country?

Let's stop calling this a war. Call it what it is: an excuse to try out high-tech weaponry, an excuse to give a trillion dollars to the military-industrial complex, an extremely bloody show wherein the U.S. gets extend its hegemony to the oil-rich sands of the Middle East.