Friday, July 27, 2007

This goes too far, even for the likes of Sheriff Joe and Hang 'em High Thomas!

There is talk of charging the car-jacking suspect with the deaths of the 4 killed when their respective news helicopters collided while covering the chase:
The suspect who led police on a vehicle chase could face murder charges after two television news helicopters filming the pursuit collided in midair, killing four people aboard.
Now this goes too damned far. There is some precedent for charging fleeing suspects when innocent civilians or law enforcement officers are killed due to the pursuit. This, however, is very different. These were not innocent civilians who just happened to be on the road when a hot pursuit crossed their path. This is not a case of a police helicopter following the suspect and crashed.

No, this was a case of news organizations competing with each other to get the best angle of what they hoped would be something spectacular like a big crash, shootout or an arrest they could show live. They were not innocent bystanders who happened to be caught in the pursuit, they were actively pursuing the action because that is what the public seems to crave. Look how often such chases are broadcast live on TV, interrupting programming even if the chase is in a different state.

It could very well be that one or both of the pilots made errors that led to the crash or mechanical failure is partially to blame.

Clearly, the man on the run is not to blame for this crash, we are.

It was bound to happen

In the insatiable appetite we have for live police dramas, two news helicopters in Phoenix collided with each other today, killing at least 3 while following a police chase. Luckily, the copters crashed over Indian School Park, thus no one on the ground appears to be hurt at this time. I've often wondered how news copters managed to avoid each other when coving such moving news stories.

My heart goes out to the families and friends of those that died, but maybe this will get the FAA to re-evaluate flight rules over populated areas.

Monday, July 23, 2007

What, no Bulk Trash Pick-up in Orbit???

The International Space Station is discarding some of it's trash and tossing it to the curb, so to speak. Unfortunately for us, their curb is a decaying orbit around Earth. From CNN.COM today:
Spacewalkers take out the trash
  • Spacewalkers Clayton Anderson and Fyodor Yurchikhin toss junk
  • Space junk: A 1,400-pound ammonia tank, other outdated equipment
  • The ammonia tank was launched in 2001 to provide spare coolant
  • It will orbit the Earth for 10 or 11 months before burning up in the atmosphere
So the folks at the ISS deal with their trash, even dangerous stuff, the way most of us do: Set it out at the curb and hope for the best. Now, back here on good ol' terra firma we expect that those that haul off our trash are taking it to a land fill that meets all sorts of environmental guidelines. In space, they just let it burn up in the atmosphere. If it will burn up. Some things are just a bit too big for that to happen and thus end up right back where it came from.

Now, we aren't talking about big chunks of something like SkyLab coming back to earth in '79 in a semi-controlled re-entry, but we aren't talking about bits of used toilet paper either. NASA is hoping that the bits and pieces will end up falling into the ocean. Of course, this is the same group that smashed a multi-milllion dollar Mars mission because of of some math errors. Not a comforting thought when you think of pieces of metal hurling towards Earth at terminal velocity.

Admittedly, there is a minuscule chance that some of these pieces would cause significant damage or harm. It does, however, bring up the issue of long and short-term planning of NASA and the International Space Agency. They have to have known that they would need to get rid of some bulk items, so why not make sure that there would be room on some shuttle missions to bring some of this junk back? With China getting into the space race, private satellite launches, and other forays into low Earth orbit, eventually the odds will catch up that something bad will happen when some piece of junk comes back to earth. We dodged a bullet when the Space Shuttle Columbia burned up over Texas and Louisiana in 2003. We may not be so lucky in the future.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Nightmares can come true!

Cheney to become president…briefly

WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Bush will undergo a routine colonoscopy Saturday, and will transfer power to Vice President Dick Cheney during the procedure, expected to take about two and a half hours, the chief White House spokesman said.

Tony Snow said Friday that the procedure, during which a doctor looks for any signs of cancer, will be carried out at Camp David, Maryland, and the president will be placed under anesthesia.

Bush’s last colonoscopy was in June 2002, and no abnormalities were found, Snow said.

Here's hoping all goes well with the President's exam and nothing major happens while he is under. Who knows what Cheney would do if given the chance.

Hell, maybe the doctor will find GW's head while he's in there.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Fear not, Rover, that water is all yours... for now.

John Kromko got the signatures he needed to get his repeal-the-garbage-fee, no-growth, conserve-water, no-toilet-to-tap initiative on the ballot, (aka "Tucson Water Users Bill of Rights") for now:

Controversial water initiative qualifies for November vote

By Rob O'Dell
Arizona Daily Star
An initiative to repeal garbage pickup fee and prohibit "toilet-to-tap" drinking water and limit future water connections has enough signatures to be placed on November's ballot. Tucson City Clerk Kathy Detrick verified Thursday that the initiative dubbed the "Tucson Water Users Bill of Rights" has the needed 11,615 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.

This measure addresses two interrelated issues, growth and water. By limiting connections to Tucson Water to 9,000 new homes, Kromko hopes to make sure that there is enough water for those of us that are already here. Converting wastewater into potable water, aka "toilet-to-water", would be banned completely. As an added bonus, the $14 a month garbage fee would also be repealed.

To many, there is little to not like about this initiative, of unless you are a developer or the City Manager. Groups like SAHBA clearly don't like the idea of being limited on how many homes could be built and Hein has said that the $$ from the fee keeps the city functioning at current levels and without it would have to cut back services somewhere (law enforcement is usually mentioned first, as that is an easy way to scare folks). And no one likes the idea of paying for something that used to be free.

This initiative, however, has numerous flaws and is doomed to trash heap even before it is printed:

#1. Constitutionally, this bill is doomed because it deals with more than one issue, the Arizona Constitution limits propositions and initiatives to one issue. Trash, limiting new connections, and water reclamation are very different issues. Those groups opposed to this law will challenge it on this alone. and Win.

#2. The trash cash has become so intertwined into the city budget that cutting it cold-turkey would have some pretty devastating effects. City manager Mike Hein spoke @ Drinking Liberally last year about the trash fee and how critical it is to the city budget. Besides, $14 a month is a bargain compared to the $17 I paid when I lived just outside the city limits. As for those that feel that they can't afford it, there are programs in place to provide relief from this fee.

#3. The measure also prohibits ANY non-federally mandated advertising by Tucson Water, outside of circulars included with the bill. Sorry, but Beat the Peak worked well back in the day. You old-timers like me remember Pete the Beak, the mascot of Tucson Water's water conservation program. Who reads those stupid glossy things, anyway.

#4. Section A, Part 4 requires new connections to pay the costs of the connection. This will drive new construction prices through the roof. New house prices are already out of reach for the average working Tucsonan. This would put them even further out of reach.

#5. Limits on new connections. This could be interpreted as overstepping state laws prohibiting building moratoriums. This is something else that would make new homes too expensive for the average person. One potential positive outcome of this limit on new construction would be to push more folks into the resale market. (and drive up resale prices, again, hurting average workers).

#6. False pretenses. this may be the weakest of my arguments. Folks who were gathering signatures labeled this as a repeal of the garbage fee. It turns out that this was so much more than this. John Kromko himself referred to it as dealing with the garbage fee at a Drining Liberally meeting a couple of months ago.

There are several good things in this measure, however. The ban on toilet-to-tap is a great idea. Sorry, but the thought that Rover and I would be essentially sharing the same drinking water is just not appealing. I don't trust the technology that would clean the water to be 100% effective and running 100% of the time. And if the cleaning equipment failed, how long woult it take before they caught it and how long would we be boiling our water before they could assure us that the water was safe and that our pipes weren't contaminated???? Toilet to tap is just a bad idea.

Prohibiting additional fees for transportation construction is a good idea, also. We voted in the Regional Transportation Plan just over a year ago to cover our transportation needs.

I like John Kromko and respect him . He served this community in the legislature for years and did a fine job. He just over-reached with this one. My fear is that by over-reaching, he will allow the Toilet-to-Tap to go forward.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

McCain: 'Things are fine, just give it time'

and he is referring to both the war AND his presidential campaign!
Despite turmoil, McCain optimistic

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Sen. John McCain described his campaign for the White House as “going well” and vowed Tuesday to continue his bid for the GOP presidential nomination even as several of his senior staffers said they were leaving the campaign.

Campaign Manager Terry Nelson and Chief Strategist John Weaver announced earlier in the day they were resigning from their posts. Within a few hours, CNN confirmed that Deputy Campaign Manager Reed Galen and Political Director Rob Jesmer were also leaving the campaign.

McCain is already under fire from conservatives for his position on immigration as well as Independents for supporting the Iraq war. His bid for the White House took a hit last week when it reported only having $2 million in the bank after raising more than $11 million in the second quarter. Major campaign layoffs followed and the resignations Tuesday of several senior staffers further fueled speculation that McCain would drop out of the race.

But after delivering a speech on Iraq from the Senate floor, McCain sought to silence any suggestions that he was throwing in the towel.

“Of course,” McCain responded to a reporter who asked if would continue to campaign for the presidency. “With the same people who were running it before. We were a collective team and I’m very grateful for their contributions that they will continue to make.”

McCain: Troop increase showing progress

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Sen. John McCain, who visited Iraq last week, said Tuesday the increase of U.S. forces in Baghdad and elsewhere in the country is showing signs of progress and pleaded for his fellow senators not to require they pull out until their goals have been achieved.

Departure now would “embolden radical Islamists around the world,” he said during a speech on the Senate floor. “Withdrawal must grow out of a political solution, not the other way around.”

It would also “invite further Iranian influence” in the region, which could lead to spiraling oil prices and genocide, he said.

“If we pack up and leave, the war doesn’t end, it merely gets harder,” he said.

More sheiks are siding with coalition forces against al Qaeda commanders, sectarian violence has diminished since January, and locals are increasingly giving tips to coalition forces about planned attacks, the Republican presidential candidate said.

Though there is no guarantee that U.S. forces will wind up achieving their goals, the senator from Arizona said, “you can be sure that should the U.S. Senate seek to legislate an end to the strategy as it is just beginning, then we will fail for certain.”

The war continues to flounder as does his campaign, but McCain remains optimistic. Johnny Mac needs to take a look at what someone else is writing about his campaign efforts....

From the Dilbert Blog, by Scott Adams:

I Want a Lucky President

All of the major candidates for president of the United States are qualified. They know the issues. They’re smart. They’ve all shown leadership, and they obviously know politics.

But which one is luckiest? I want the luckiest person as my president. That’s what I liked about Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan. They were lucky people, and it seemed to rub off on the country. The trouble is, how do you predict who is going to be lucky?

I have a theory that everyone is born with a similar quantity of luck, but it’s distributed unevenly over a lifetime. Some people have their bad luck early in life, followed by good luck for the rest of their lives, and vice versa. If someone “up there” is planning people’s fates, a few of those decisions must have gone like this:

“You will have cancer, and one nut, but to even things out, I’ll let you win the Tour de France a bunch of times, and hump Sheryl Crow until it gets boring.”

“You will be poor, and sexually abused as a child. But to even things out, you’ll be Oprah.”

“You will be born to one of the richest families in America. You will be handsome and smart and eventually President of the United States. You will shag Marilyn Monroe and anything else with a skirt. But just to even things out, I’ll have some guy shoot you in the head.”


(how his theory applies to John McCain:)

See how this works? All we have to do is find the presidential candidate who had the worst early life experience. That’s the one who will have the most luck in the future.

Senator McCain immediately comes to mind. He was a prisoner of war. But if you read his biography, it looks like he already used up his luck by consistently being the “guy who didn’t get killed.” And his misfortune of being tortured already helped him get elected Senator. I worry that he might have already achieved breakeven.

See, even Scott Adams sees that McCain has used up his Karma. If he were elected, bad things for the US. (read the blog for more how he views the luck factor of other Presidential candidates)

The real point of this whole McCain implosion is Johnny's lack of honesty. If he can't be honest about his own campaign, how can we trust him to be honest with us about important stuff like Iraq, Iran, the economy, terrorism, etc???

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A new Jihad is declared.....

Not one to be outdone by some Shia Mullah, the Pope launched an attack on the heathen, non-believers..... meaning all that don't recognize the Pope's Authority:

Vatican: Non-Catholics 'wounded' by not recognizing pope

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) -- The Vatican on Tuesday said Christian denominations outside the Roman Catholic Church were not full churches of Jesus Christ.

A 16-page document, prepared by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which Pope Benedict used to head, described Christian Orthodox churches as true churches, but suffering from a "wound" since they do not recognize the primacy of the Pope.

But the document said the "wound is still more profound" in the Protestant denominations -- a view likely to further complicate relations with Protestants.

"Despite the fact that this teaching has created no little distress ... it is nevertheless difficult to see how the title of 'Church' could possibly be attributed to them," it said.

The Vatican text, which restates the controversial document "Dominus Iesus" issued by the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 2000, said the Church wanted to stress this point because some Catholic theologians continued to misunderstand it.


The document said the Council's opening to other faiths recognized there were "many elements of sanctification and truth" in other Christian denominations, but stressed only Catholicism had all the elements to be Christ's Church fully.

The text refers to "ecclesial communities originating from the Reformation," a term used to refer to Protestants and Anglicans. Father Augustine Di Noia, under-secretary for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said the document did not alter the commitment for ecumenical dialogue, but aimed to assert Catholic identity in those talks.

"The Church is not backtracking on ecumenical commitment," Di Noia told Vatican radio.

"But, as you know, it is fundamental to any kind of dialogue that the participants are clear about their own identity. That is, dialogue cannot be an occasion to accommodate or soften what you actually understand yourself to be."

What a great way to save paper and the environment! In one document, several shots are fired in a Jihad:
  1. the Pope slams all other world religions by claiming that the Catholic Church is the ONE TRUE CHURCH, thus offending about 7/8ths of the world population
  2. adds an extra slam at the Protestant movement for not recognizing the Pope's authority... (Wow, start a war with one shot and shoot your main allies with the second.... Even Hitler waited a few weeks after dividing Poland with Stalin before attacking the Soviet Union)
Seems to me that the Pope and the rest of the old folks in the Vatican seem to have forgotten a wee bit of history: It was this very type of egotism and meglomania that led to the Protestant Reformation.

You gotta love the last paragraph:

But, as you know, it is fundamental to any kind of dialogue that the participants are clear about their own identity. That is, dialogue cannot be an occasion to accommodate or soften what you actually understand yourself to be."

To me, that reads "We'll talk with y'all, just as long as you know your place"...

Well, that does kinda look like a certain salute from his youth in the photo above...

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Rummy et al passed on chance to get Top Al Q.

Rummy passed on a chance to get top Al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan in 2005:

'05 mission to get al Qaeda in Pakistan aborted, Times says

NEW YORK (Reuters) -- A secret 2005 mission to capture senior al Qaeda members in Pakistan's tribal areas was aborted at the last moment when Bush administration officials decided it was too risky and could jeopardize relations with Pakistan, The New York Times reported Saturday.

Citing intelligence and military officials, including a former senior intelligence official involved in the planning, the Times said in a story posted on its Web site that the target was a meeting of al Qaeda leaders. That conference was thought by intelligence officials to have included Ayman al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden's top deputy, who was believed to run the group's operations, it said.

The classified mission was scotched even as Navy SEALs in parachute gear had boarded C-130 cargo planes in Afghanistan after then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld rejected a last-minute appeal by then-CIA director Porter Goss, the Times said, citing the officials and the former intelligence official, all of whom requested anonymity.

Rumsfeld felt the mission, which grew from a small number of personnel to several hundred, would risk too many U.S. lives, and he was also concerned about possible repercussions on U.S.-Pakistan relations, the Times said.


So, it was OK to risk tens of thousands of lives to invade Iraq, a nation that MAY have posed a threat to the region and possibly the US (IF you want to give any credence to Bush admin claims in 2003), but it was too much to risk lives to go after the guys that actually attacked us???

It was OK to piss of most nations in the world with an invasion of Iraq, yet we worry about the opinions of ONE nation's leader??

In his speech to the US Congress, the nation and the world in September of 2001, GWB said that he would leave no stone unturned in his hunt for those responsible for those responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

More proof that the war on terror is mere rhetoric aimed at stopping democracy here in the US.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Do you have what it takes to become a citizen?

Social Studies Test Time: (from MSNBC)

Do you have what it takes to become a citizen?

When immigrants want to become Americans, they must take a civics test as part of their naturalization interview before a Citizenship and Immigration Services (INS) officer. The questions are usually selected from a list of 100 sample questions that prospective citizens can look at ahead of the interview (though the examiner is not limited to those questions). Some are easy, some are not. We have picked some of the more difficult ones.
NOTES: The INS plans to revise its list of questions in 2008 (a pilot program is using these new questions at selected INS sites). Also, the questions in the test below are as asked on the official United States Immigration and Naturalization Services Web site. Candidates are not given multiple choices in the naturalization interview, which is conducted orally.

Take the Test:

Go ahead, take the test and tell me how you did! I got all but one right..... (ok, so I don't know my immigration forms.... )

I wonder if we can get Gabby G. to take the test Thursday @ Drinking Liberally

Monday, July 02, 2007

As Brad said to Frankenfurter: "What have you done to Janet?!"

I fear that Pod People have taken over the mind and/or body of our beloved Gov! It seems that she has decided to sign the Employer Sanctions Bill:

Napolitano signs employee sanctions bill

Gov. Janet Napolitano signed a bill Monday which experts say will create the toughest sanctions in the country for companies that "knowingly" hire illegal immigrants, breaking from some political allies in the business community who have opposed the measure. In a statement Napolitano said, "Immigration is a federal responsibility, but I signed HB 2779 because it is now abundantly clear that Congress finds itself incapable of coping with the comprehensive immigration reforms our country needs. "I signed it, too, out of the realization that the flow of illegal immigration into our state is due to the constant demand of some employers for cheap, undocumented labor."
She goes on to point out several flaws in the bill, including issues with potential discrimination against legal workers. She is willing to call a special session to remedy this and other problems.
I can't believe that our Governor has approved a bill she clearly admits is seriously flawed. I know she doesn't fear the legislature, she has never had a problem vetoing bad legislation before (and there has been no lack of bad legislation, believe me).

Now I agree that those employers that knowingly hire illegal immigrants should face punishment, but to put them permanently out of business on the second offense is a violation of the 8th Amendment to the Constitution. Funny how the right felt that Scooters 30 month jail sentence for obstruction of justice was too severe but yet feel a 'death sentence' is fine for a second offense.

Why would Janet acquiesce to the Dark Side? Could it be that she is hedging her bets and look for some sort of cabinet position or better in a future Democratic administration?

Come on, Janet. We were hoping that you'd keep this 'Riff-Raff' legislation from becoming law!

Bush and Scooter: Best of Both Worlds

Well, we knew he'd receive "a get out of jail free card" of some kind, so this should come as no great shock:

Bush commutes Libby's prison sentence

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush has commuted the prison term of former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, facing 30 months in prison after a federal court convicted him of perjury, obstruction of justice and lying to investigators.
What is a bit surprising is that Scooter didn't receive a full pardon yet. (yet, since i bet he gets one @ 11:59 AM on January 20, 2009). Many Right-wingers had called for a full pardon for Scooter, and most of us liberals expectedBush to do so. But George, oh so full of surprises, decided to just commute his sentence instead.

Smart move by a man we all (well, those of us to the left of Attila the Hun) think isn't too bright. Bush gets the best of both worlds, Scooter avoids prison thus keeping the Right happy, yet Scooter still remains a convicted felon, keeping the rest of us at bay to some extent.

Wonder if that felony conviction will keep him from getting a nice paying job on K street?
Nw, I don't think so, either!