“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Monday, May 31, 2010

"We are not at war with jihadists."

For so many who gave the last full measure

In Flanders Fields

By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch, be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Israel Attacks Palestinian Relief Ships

14 Deaths Reported as Israel Attacks Aid Flotilla
Published: May 31, 2010

JERUSALEM — The Israeli Navy attacked a flotilla carrying thousands of tons of supplies for Gaza on Monday morning, news agencies reported, killing at least 14 people and wounding at least 30.

The warships first intercepted the aid flotilla shortly before midnight on Sunday, surprising the boats in international waters, according to activists on one vessel. Israel had vowed not to let the flotilla reach the shores of Gaza, where the Islamic militant group Hamas holds sway.

Named the Freedom Flotilla, and led by the pro-Palestinian Free Gaza Movement and a Turkish organization, Insani Yardim Vakfi, the convoy of six cargo and passenger boats is the most ambitious attempt yet to break Israel’s three-year blockade of Gaza. About 600 passenegers were said to be aboard the vessels, including the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Mairead Corrigan-Maguire of Northern Ireland, and a Holocaust survivor, Hedy Epstein, 85.

Channel 10, a private station in Israel, quoted the Israeli Trade Minister, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, as saying between 14 and 16 people had been killed on one of the flotilla ships. He said on Israeli Army Radio that commandos boarded the ship by sliding down on ropes from a hovering helicopter, and were then struck by passengers with “batons and tools.”

“The moment someone tries to snatch your weapon, to steal your weapons, that’s where you begin to lose control,” Mr. Ben-Eliezer said, quoted by Reuters.

An Israeli television station reported 10 deaths, according to Reuters, an account that was confirmed on Army Radio, according to Bloomberg News. Israeli Radio reported three Israeli commandos had been lightly injured.

Three Israeli Navy missile boats left the Haifa naval base in northern Israel a few minutes after 9 p.m. local time on Sunday, planning to intercept the flotilla. After asking the captains of the boats to identify themselves, the navy told them they were approaching a blockaded area and asked them either to proceed to the Israeli port of Ashdod, north of Gaza, or to return to their countries of origin.

The activists responded that they would continue toward their destination, Gaza.

Speaking by satellite phone from the Challenger 1 boat, which has foreign legislators and other high-profile figures on board, a Free Gaza Movement leader, Huwaida Arraf, said: “We communicated to them clearly that we are unarmed civilians. We asked them not to use violence.”

Earlier Sunday, Ms. Arraf said the boats would keep trying to move forward “until they either disable our boats or jump on board.”

The Israeli Defense Forces said in an earlier statement that if the flotilla members ignored warnings to stop and continued toward Gaza “they will be arrested, brought to Israel’s shores and transferred to the Ministry of Interior and the immigration authorities so they can be sent back to their country of origin.”

“The security forces will take possession of the aid expected to be on board the flotilla,” the statement said, “and following a security check of the goods, the items will be transferred into the Gaza Strip.”

In Ankara, the Turkish capital, local TV stations showed angry protesters confronting police officers outside the Israeli consulate on Monday morning.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Law and Punishment for You. A Choice for Our Rulers and Masters

We have Obama cabinet members that pick and choose which US laws they will follow and enforce. We have two presidents in a row who would not enforce Federal immigration laws.

Obama and his staff ignore US Code and try to bribe a sitting US Congressman who is running for The US Senate.

Referrenda, bringing in new law to states such as California are routinely ignored.

We have an entire class of non US citizens claiming rights while openly ignoring US laws. They and their supporters go further and demand laws be changed for them so that laws themselves no longer guide civil behavior, they follow it.

Today we have the latest example with the Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard being bypassed by state hired private attorneys because General Goddard is reluctant to enforce the law.

Laws have become a choice.

Go off script and we should rewrite the script.

Drive 65 mph in a 35 mph zone and the police and local authorities should change the signs to 65.

Break US law as a university dean and one day become a Supreme Court Justice.

We routinely hear politicians say "but it is done all the time, everyone else is doing it."

Jusdge Napolitano made this observation almost two years ago. It is just as apt today:


Ariz gov. bypasses attorney general on immigration lawsuits
By the CNN Wire Staff
May 29, 2010 3:45 p.m. EDT

(CNN) --
Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona has bypassed Attorney General Terry Goddard and will rely on other lawyers to defend the state against lawsuits challenging its controversial law targeting illegal immigration, according to a statement.

The legislature gave Brewer the power to hire outside counsel "because of its lack of confidence in the Attorney General's willingness to vigorously defend" the law, she said in the statement.

Her statement referred to Goddard's opposition to the new immigration law, which lets police officers check the residency status of anyone who is being investigated for a crime or possible legal infraction if there is reasonable suspicion the person is in the United States illegally.

Critics, including U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, have said the law will promote racial profiling. Several lawsuits have been filed to challenge the law. The federal government is considering whether to file a lawsuit of its own.
The governor's statement came after the U.S. Justice Department sent an assistant attorney general and several other key officials to Arizona on Friday to emphasize federal reservations about the new law.

The federal officials met separately in Phoenix with Goddard, a Democrat, and aides to Brewer, a Republican.
"We continue to have concerns that the law drives a wedge between law enforcement and the communities they serve, and are examining it to see what options are available to the federal government," said Justice spokeswoman Hannah August.

After the Justice Department visit -- and before the governor said she would bypass him -- Goddard said in a statement that he told the federal lawyers that Arizona would "fight back" if the federal government sued Arizona.
"The people of Arizona are deeply frustrated by the federal government's inability to enact comprehensive immigration reform," he said.

The governor said she acted due to Goddard's "curious coordination with the U.S. Department of Justice ... and his consistent opposition to Arizona's new immigration laws."

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Sestak Coverup by The Obama White House

18 U.S.C. § 600 : US Code - Section 600: Promise of employment or other benefit for political activity: Whoever, directly or indirectly, promises any employment, position, compensation, contract, appointment, or other benefit, provided for or made possible in whole or in part by any Act of Congress, or any special consideration in obtaining any such benefit, to any person as consideration, favor, or reward for any political activity or for the support of or opposition to any candidate or any political party in connection with any general or special election to any political office, or in connection with any primary election or political convention or caucus held to select candidates for any political office, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.


May 28th 2010 — Posted to News Flash

So how did it happen? How did a straightforward question and blunt answer bring anxiety to the White House? I’ll tell you the story.For over three months now, friends and others have asked me to recount the events of February 18th of this year, when a single question from me to Congressman Joe Sestak unleashed a controversy that remains to this day. Is it a political issue? Is it illegal? I can’t answer those questions, but I can tell you how casually it all happened, and what basis I had for asking the question,

“Were you ever offered a job to get out of this race? (The contest against Arlen Specter).

Sestak didn’t flinch .

“Yes,” he answered.

“Was it Navy Secretary?”, I asked

“No comment.”

He proceeded to talk about staying in the race but added that “he was called many times” to pull out.
Later, I asked, “So you were offered a job by someone in the White House?”

He said, “Yes.”

When the taping stopped, Joe Sestak looked surprised .

“You are the first person who ever asked me that question.”

And that was true. But why was I the first. There was buzz about this story since last summer. A few days before the February 18th taping of Voice Of Reason for The Comcast Network, I was advised by two reliable sources that someone in or close to the White House had dangled a high level job offer to Sestak, to give a clear path to Senator Specter for the nomination. I thought it would be a good thing to pose the question to Sestak in the upcoming interview.

The Sestak interview was the second in this contest. I interviewed Specter a week before.

I prepared for the program with an outline of questions. But on that Thursday I was having a very hectic day. I was a little overwhelmed with work. I forgot to put the question in my outline. Suddenly, with 90 seconds left, I remembered!

The news business can have moments that are so unpredictable. I knew the questionwas a good one, based on some really good sources, but I was flabbergasted when Sestak said “Yes.” There was no hesitation. No delay. He just said, “Yes.”

As the Congressman left the building, there was an obvious dilemma. The show wouldn’t air till Sunday the 21st. The story could be big. I called Comcast executives. With their blessing, I broke the story with an audio interview on KYW Newsradio. But first there was work to do. I needed a White House response.

I called the White House Press Office. I played the interview for the individual who answered the phone. She said someone would call me back. A few minutes later, another individual called. She said the White House would call back with a reaction “shortly.” That was 3:45 in the afternoon.

The report aired all night without a White House response.

At 6:45 the next morning, 15 hours later, a Deputy Press Secretary called. She said, “You can say the White House says it’s not true.”

A similar call was placed to the Inquirer’s Tom Fitzgerald. Tom was in the studio during the show taping. He was following Sestak around, working on a feature story. He took the story to page one of the Friday Inquirer.

A few days ago, both of us were still wondering why it took the White House 15 hours to issue a simple denial.

The rest is history, peculiar history. The “job offer” story never became an issue in the campaign although some would suggest the story played well to Sestak’s argument that he was a real Democratic independent.

But on May 19th, a day after his upset victory over Specter, the February interview became an internet hit. Republcans, arguing that it may have been a crime to offer a job in return for a withdrawal from a political contest. Democrats, only recently, called for the truth on this story. The President, saying nothing was improper, promised a White House statement “shortly.”

The entire episode, now broadcast and printed around the nation, is also a popular item on the web.
There are several things I want you to know. I’m surprised that Washington reporters never asked the question in the first place, I’m surprised that Sestak answered so quickly when I posed the question.

But most of all, I’m stunned that a rather simple question, turned into a political firestorm. You never really know where the pursuit of news will take you.

The story may not be over. Republicans will want more than just a White House counsel’s report.

But the beginning to this saga may be more interesting than the end.

One thing I do know is that, as the question was being asked, Joe Sestak never hesitated. In a split second, he just said, “yes.”


Sestak Message Ran Through Clinton


WASHINGTON—The White House said Friday that it tapped former President Bill Clinton last year to try to nudge Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak out of Pennsylvania's U.S. Senate primary contest.

Mr. Sestak has said since February that he was offered a high-level job in exchange for dropping his challenge to Sen. Arlen Specter, which Mr. Sestak ended up winning. Republican critics have alleged that the approach may have broken federal law.

Amid the GOP accusations of a scandal, The Obama administration on Friday released a memo giving its most extensive description of events, which the White House counsel's office investigated beginning in February. The memo said "no impropriety occurred."

The memo said Mr. Clinton, acting at the request of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, raised with Mr. Sestak the possibility of an "uncompensated advisory board" position. That would have given Mr. Sestak a new opportunity for public service, allowed him to keep his House seat and "avoid a divisive Senate primary," the memo said.

Mr. Clinton made the approach during a phone call in June or July 2009, according to an official familiar with the matter, who provided additional details in a briefing. Mr. Sestak declined the offer, the memo said.

Mr. Sestak, talking to reporters Friday, used the White House's terminology in describing the offer as a "presidential board," not his earlier description of a job offer. One of the possible advisory posts the White House had in mind, according to the person familiar with the matter, was on the President's Intelligence Advisory Board. Its 16 members are unpaid and may not be federal government employees, meaning that Mr. Sestak may have had to leave his House seat to accept the position.

He said Mr. Clinton called him and said, "Joe, if you stay in the House, Rahm has brought up being appointed to a presidential board."

When Mr. Sestak interrupted the former president to refuse, he said, Mr. Clinton chuckled and replied, "Joe, I knew you were going to say that." The two of them never discussed it again, Mr. Sestak added.

A spokesman for the Clinton Foundation declined to comment on Mr. Clinton's role. Mr. Sestak, a former Navy officer, had served on the White House National Security Council under Mr. Clinton.

Some Republicans say the White House may have violated Section 600 of the federal criminal code, which makes it illegal to promise anyone an appointment in exchange for political activity, or in exchange for supporting or opposing a candidate.

"It says you can't offer an appointment, and that is exactly what the memo admits they were doing," said Hans von Spakovsky, who was appointed to the Federal Election Commission by President George W. Bush and is now with the conservative Heritage Foundation. "All the admissions they made provide the elements for a violation of the statute."

The administration's defenders say that interpretation misses the point of the law, which they say was aimed at machine politicians who offered people jobs to support their candidates.

"It's not about offering someone a job to sideline them," said Richard Painter, who was chief White House ethics lawyer under Mr. Bush. "It was about the spoils system and getting people to get out there and support someone in exchange for a job."

The attorney general has the power, without White House interference, to order an investigation or to decide whether one isn't merited. In a letter to Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) last week, the Justice Department said its career prosecutors and investigators were capable of handling any criminal probe "if warranted." It rejected Mr. Issa's suggestion of a special prosecutor, but didn't say whether a Justice inquiry was being conducted. Congress also has the power to investigate, a development that seems unlikely under Democratic control.

An additional internal complication for the Obama administration is that Mr. Emanuel and Attorney General Eric Holder have clashed on major national security policy matters, most notably on Mr. Holder's decision to order a civilian trial in New York City for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other alleged plotters of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Mr. Emanuel opposed the move, and White House officials have signaled that Mr. Obama is expected to overturn Mr. Holder's decision.

Another possible legal avenue for a probe could be to look into whether Mr. Emanuel's actions violated the Hatch Act, which forbids federal employees from interfering with an election's outcome. The penalties for a transgression are civil, rather than criminal.

"If Sestak had taken the offer, not only would it have interfered with the result, it would have changed the result," said Scott Coffina, who specialized in ethics and elections in the Bush White House counsel's office.

But others say the Hatch Act was intended to prevent administration officials from pressuring subordinates into political activity. Mr. Painter says it makes little sense to interpret ethics laws too sweepingly in a world where every administration is involved in politics.

"You would make illegal a great deal of what government does," he said.

The White House said that reports that Mr. Sestak had been offered the position of Navy secretary were untrue. At the time of Mr. Clinton's conversation with Mr. Sestak, the Navy secretary job was already filled by Ray Mabus, who was nominated in March 2009, and confirmed two months later.

The White House memo said that the advisory post possibly filled by Mr. Sestak would have been related to intelligence or national security. Mr. Sestak served for 31 years in the Navy and is a former three-star admiral.

In the primary, Mr. Sestak defeated Mr. Obama's favored candidate, Mr. Specter, a former Republican who switched parties. Mr. Sestak faces Republican Pat Toomey in November.

Was Blago Right?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Long Term Ecological Impacts of Marine Oil Spills

It has been apparent that the Obama Administration misread the consequences to the BP oil spill. Obama will use any excuse to cover up his poor judgement and reaction to the calamity. The consequences to marine oil spills has been well documented and known for some time.

We will see where we go from here.


Long Term Impacts of Marine Oil Spills

Torrey Canyon, 1967 - The impacts of the clean-up of rocky shores following the Torrey Canyon spill are now legendary. The large volumes of highly toxic first generation dispersants caused massive mortality of the shore life and tainted (pun intended!) the name of dispersants to this day. Rapid recovery from the oil was recorded from the un-treated shores, but disruption of the treated shore communities was reported to last at least 10 years and possibly as much as 15 years (Hawkins
and Southward1992).

This is all the more remarkable because the disruptions continued in the absence of oil and without any physical clean-up damage to the shore – i.e. only through the natural recovery processes. This is far longer than any other example found, although at least some of the disruptions described were in the form of unusually large fluctuations in abundance of the dominant species. Reductions in biodiversity of the affected shores is only apparent by the very protracted return of one limpet species (Patella depressa), which took 10 years. This limpet was at the edge of its geographical range, which will have limited its recruitment potential. Abundances of the other species documented all rose rapidly and many then fluctuated even more than typical natural variability.
Florida, 1969 - Although relatively small, this fuel oil spillage caused heavy oiling of significant areas of saltmarsh. After 7 years, oil remaining in the sediment was still having notable effects (poor recruitment, survival and abundance and abnormal behaviour) on populations of burrowing fiddler crabs. Signs of recovery were correlated with sediment naphthalene removal (Krebs and Burns 1978). High concentrations of oil still remain in sub-surface sediments (below 6 cm) at the monitoring sites (Reddy et al. 2002) and studies after twenty years (Teal et al. 1992) showed that crabs from the heavily oiled sites had much higher oil concentrations in their tissues and that detoxification enzyme indicators (EROD activity) were significantly higher in marsh fish from those sites. Continued ecological effects do not appear to have been studied beyond the first 7 years.

Arrow, 1970 - Thomas (1978) describes effects on sediment infauna from a spill of heavy fuel oil into a very sheltered bay. Six years after the spill, toxic levels of oil still remained in the sediment and analysis of clam (Mya arenaria) growth rates (from length and weight frequency data) from oiled and unoiled sites showed significant reduction at oiled sites. Lee et al. (1999) have carried out bioassay studies in more recent years (last in 1999) on sediments from the same area. They showed that sediments from the oiled sites (which were still conspicuously contaminated by oil) had low toxicity, as measured by bioassays using amphipods.

Metula, 1974 - thick and extensive deposits of tar and asphalt pavement still remain on areas of saltmarsh and upper intertidal mixed-sediment beaches at this classic oil spill site (Owens et al. 1999). Recovery of the marsh vegetation is likely to take many more decades, but chemical composition of the oil’s toxicity is now low and breaking up the deposits would accelerate recolonisation (Wang et al. 2001).

Amoco Cadiz, 1978 – this very large spill severely affected a wide variety of coastal resources around Brittany, but its ecological impact is now best known for the erosion and slow re-growth of trampled saltmarsh areas; while similarly oiled but uncleaned marsh returned to natural vegetation in less than 5 years (Baca et al. 1987). The physical alteration of the marsh was therefore the primary cause of long term effects in this case.

The Amoco Cadiz spill also impacted subtidal sediments in the Bay of Morlaix and Dauvin (1998) has suggested that impacts to the benthos lasted for up to 12 years (and in the absence of any oil). He has shown that densities of tubiculous amphipods (primarily Ampelisca - which are well known to be extremely sensitive to oil in water) in a fine sand seabed habitat (17m depth) were much reduced for that period, even though they have a high fecundity. He suggests that Ampelisca populations in this habitat and location are naturally at a stable ‘climax’ state but that
this state was severely disturbed and that recovery was slow because the population was geographically isolated.
Esso Bernicia, 1978 - fuel oil from this spill contaminated shores within Sullom Voe and outside and is still present as patches of tar and asphalt pavement on some very sheltered rocky and mixed sediment shores. Annual monitoring showed rapid return of the communities of epibiota at most of the affected sites except some boulder/shingle shores where aggressive physical clean-up (with bulldozers) caused long-term instability of the substrata (Moore et al. 1995). This instability resulted in continued depression of both species richness and abundance of some algae and molluscs on those shores for at least nine years, presumably by reducing recruitment and survival. By 1989 species richness had returned and abundances had also returned to normal levels, but substratum levels were still surprisingly changeable for many more years and abundances still fluctuated greatly (annual reports and personal observations).

The Esso Bernicia spill also killed large numbers of wintering birds. Frequent monitoring showed that most of the local populations affected quickly returned to pre-spill numbers except for the great northern diver (Gavia immer). Heubeck (1997 and pers. comm.) showed that abundances in Yell Sound were still much reduced from their pre-spill levels. He suggests that the Yell Sound wintering population may also all breed in the same location (somewhere in the Nearctic) and that the cause of the poor recruitment may be due to environmental factors affecting that location.

TROPICS experiment, 1984 - Baca et al. 2005 review 20 years of results from this study on the effects of chemically dispersed crude oil on mangroves. They show that the oil did not persist and no long term impacts were detected at the dispersed oil and reference sites; while the undispersed oil site was still characterised by persistent oil residues, significantly reduced mangrove condition (smaller tree size) and substratum erosion.

Vivita, 1986 - A tropical example of the long term impacts of tar residues has been shown by Nagelkerken and Debrot (1995). They found that substantial tar cover in rubble shores of Curacao, still present more than 7 years after oiling despite moderate wave exposure, was causing a 35% reduction in species richness of molluscs (snails, limpet and chitons). They suggested that this reduction was in large part due to the loss of micro-habitats (under, between and within the rubble) caused by the cementation of rubble by the tar deposits.

Galeta, 1986 - Five years after this crude oil spill there were still severe impacts on biodiversity and productivity of red mangroves (Garrity et al.1994, Levings et al. 1994) and the structure of the mangrove had been so badly altered that recovery would clearly take a long time, even if oil had not still been present. Relatively undegraded oil was present in the anoxic muds and were expected to remain toxic for at least 20 years (Burns et al. 1994). Unfortunately no follow up studies appear to have been published. Recovery of corals on reef edge and reef flat habitats was also very slow (Cubit and Connor 1993), although complicated by natural stresses.

Exxon Valdez, 1989 - there is still a lack of consensus between researchers with different perspectives on the impacts of the Exxon Valdez spill of crude oil (Shigenaka 2005). Appreciable quantities of oil still persist on and beneath the surface of some sheltered boulder/cobble and coarse gravel shores (Short et al. 2004) and elevated tissue concentrations in some bivalves is correlated with oiled shores, but the long-term effect that it is having on ecology, beyond some localised
smothering, is confused by conflicting claims. The very limited pre-spill data and many confounding factors has made it difficult to detect impacts in populations of mobile species (fish, birds, mammals), and many studies that link sublethal effects (e.g. biomarkers) to heavily oiled sites may not have taken sufficient account of background oil. Page et al. (2004) have shown that substantial background levels of hydrocarbons from a variety of sources, including Exxon Valdez oil, are present in seabed sediments. Detoxification enzyme indicators (EROD activity) in coastal rock fish were induced by those background levels but were no more elevated at Exxon Valdez contaminated sites than at other sites. There are many ecological studies that suggest that biodiversity and productivity of the majority of affected communities and populations quickly returned to normal levels (e.g. Gilfillan, 1995, Wiens et al., 1999).

Effects of aggressive clean-up activity (hot water washing) on sheltered shore epibiota were described by Houghton et al. (1997). They showed that large fluctuations in abundance of the community dominants were still occurring at the cleaned sites (but were not so great at unoiled sites and oiled uncleaned sites) seven years after the spill. These population fluctuations were therefore similar to those described from the Torrey Canyon spill; but it also seems that the period when species richness and species abundances were continuously reduced was much shorter (apparently only 2 or 3 years).

Gulf War, 1991 - Tar and asphalt pavement still smothers extensive areas of the intertidal sand flats, halophyte zones and mangrove of the Saudi Arabian coast (Michel et al. 2005 and personal observations). Ecological impacts (particularly to halophytes and burrowing crab populations) in the upper intertidal and supratidal are severe and there are few signs of recovery (Getter et al. 2005 and personal observations).

Haven, 1991 - Considerable deposits of soft tar and hard burnt residues from the Haven spill are still present on the seabed off Genoa. Studies on sublethal effects in fish (genotoxic and hepatic tissue damage, Pietrapiana et al. 2002) and PAH concentrations in some sediment samples (Amato et al. 2002) have been linked to the contamination, but no effects were detected in the macrobenthos (Guidetti et al. 2000). Without better evidence of ecological effects (i.e. reduced species richness, population abundance or growth rates) it is not yet possible to show a long term impact, although some small smothering effects are likely just from the presence of the deposits.

Braer, 1993 - even acute impacts of the Braer spill were much less than might have been expected from the size of this spill in coastal waters; but the rapid natural dispersal of the oil and strong downward currents did result in unusually high seabed deposition. Very high concentrations (>1000ppm) of oil were found in muddy sediment sinks south of Shetland in deep water (Kingston et al. 1997) but impacts were mostly limited to reduced abundance and species richness of amphipods. Follow-up studies did not go beyond 1 year.

Sea Empress, 1996 – no significant residues of Sea Empress oil remain and a recent review of all available information, on its ten year anniversary, (Moore 2006) found very little evidence of long term impacts. This is not due to a paucity of data, as the local environment of the oil port and extremely rich coastal habitats were already very well described and monitored. However, the review did identify a few notable impacts:
While no significant long-term impacts on local seabird populations were detected, some localised long-term effects did occur, as can be shown from detailed inspection of seabird monitoring data. For example, one small breeding colony of guillemots was apparently wiped out and the site not reoccupied in 10 years – probably because first time breeders are not attracted to empty cliff sites and older birds habitually return to the same nests (Haycock pers. comm.). Of greater significance, Votier et al. (2005) have shown that the spill did kill many individual guillemots that they were monitoring in breeding colonies on Skomer Island, and that this had a notable effect on the demographics of the population. The long-term effects of this are unclear. Their results also suggested that available nest sites were reoccupied by a pool of birds that might otherwise not have been able to breed. Productivity and population numbers were therefore buffered by the substantial number of non-breeders in the population.

The spill also threatened the survival of a well studied population of the rarely recorded cushion starfish (Asterina phylactica) in shallow rockpools that were severely oiled. Mortality of the cushion stars, which brood their young in situ (therefore no recruitment from planktonic larvae), was very high (>95%) and recovery of the population seemed unlikely. However, a return to pre-spill densities was faster than expected (within 6 years, Crump, pers. comm.) due primarily to self fertilisation by the five remaining isolated animals. This is therefore an example of a species that had a greater recovery potential than might have been expected. Although moderately well studied compared to many benthic species, the spill created a situation that highlighted important gaps in our knowledge of its population ecology. It also appears that Asterina phylactica is not as rare as it was once considered to be, as many more records have been reported.

Finally, splash zone lichens of rocky shores are very slow growing and long term impacts to some well developed colonies were identified following the spill. Impacts are still evident, with abundance of dominant species and hence productivity (such as it is) is greatly reduced at some sites, but reductions in species richness were not found (Crump, pers. comm.).

Estrella Pampeana, 1999 – severe trampling during operations to remove oiled vegetation from brackish water marshes, resulted in substantial oil being pressed down into marsh sediments and extensive damage to root systems (personal observations). Ecological monitoring showed a rapid recovery of unoiled and oiled-but-not-cleaned sites, but delayed recovery of the ‘cleaned’ marsh (Moreno et al. 2004 and personal observations). The worst affected of the ‘cleaned’ marshes were still not fully recovered in 2003.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Obama's Press Conference

Just What is Obama's Expertise?

Two crises: Where's Obama?

If the White House doesn't step up soon on both the gulf oil spill and Arizona's anti-immigrant law, it risks economic woes in the gulf and loss of control of the immigration issue.

May 26, 2010|Tim Rutten LA Times

President Obama and his administration currently face two pollution problems — a physical one in the Gulf of Mexico, where oil continues to spew unchecked from a damaged well, and a political one involving immigration policy and originating in Arizona.

In both instances an exaggerated deference to process bordering on passivity risks creating an impression that the White House is running behind critical domestic events and, worse, detached — even indifferent — to the human toll of inaction.

With regard to the gulf oil well blowout, it's true that Obama inherited from previous administrations a vestigial regulatory system and an utter lack of contingency planning for such an emergency. It's also true that the federal government has to rely on the oil industry for technical expertise in these cases. At the same time, the White House has been exceptionally slow about demonstrating that it's using its legal authority to effectively monitor the pace and intensity of that technology's application. Occasional outbursts of tough talk in the Cabinet have been contradicted by Coast Guard officials, who insist British Petroleum is doing all it can.

Maybe, but there's a kind of slow-motion Hurricane Katrina washing up on the gulf shoreline, and the White House needs to show that it's actively assisting state officials on the ground and that it's already preparing to ameliorate the terrible environmental and economic losses that are about to pile up. Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honore, who directed the most effective post-Katrina relief efforts, has suggested declaring a national disaster in the area and using the authority that comes with such a declaration to start hitting BP with daily fines. The money, he suggests, should go into a trust fund to pay compensation to those injured. Inaction on this front risks further public disenchantment; two weeks ago, polls showed that only a third disapproved of the administration's approach to the gulf spill; this week, more than half did. If Wednesday's effort by BP to cap the well fails and the company has to fall back on drilling relief wells, we could be looking at something worse than the 1979 explosion and blowout in Mexico's Bay of Campeche, which took nine months to halt with that technique.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Gloom and Doom Wednesday

The Bigger they are...

The message is loud and clear: The powers that be have learned nothing from the credit crisis and left us vulnerable to another crash. Our leaders are fiddling while Rome burns. Even now, as Congress, led by the likes of Barney Frank and Christopher Dodd, works on a massive Finance and Banking Reform bill that many say does nothing about the essential problems of moral hazard and "too big to fail." In fact, they say, we've done exactly the wrong thing and created banks which are too big to fail but will anyway.

The mood coming from some corners of the European media is that of a death watch on the Euro and the Eurozone. The fear of spreading contagion has many, including Nouriel Roubini, speculating on the coming austerity measures which may be imposed throughout the social democracies and the US. Are we witnessing the end of the great post-war social experiment?

Go here and listen to a 27 minute podcast with Niall Ferguson which puts our current crisis in a historical context.

Nassim Taleb has studied nature and determined that smaller, more diverse systems are better adapted to survive cataclysmic events. He has extrapolated his theory to encompass man's economic system and concluded that larger systems such as the US banking become less diverse which makes them less resistant and more prone to ultimate failure.

Warning: Crash dead ahead. Sell. Get liquid. Now.

Commentary: 'Game's in the refrigerator.' Power's turning off. Dow sinking below 6,470

By Paul B. Farrell, MarketWatch

ARROYO GRANDE, Calif. (MarketWatch) -- "This game's in the refrigerator! The door's closed, the lights are out, the eggs are cooling, the butter's getting hard and the Jell-O is jiggling ..."

That was legendary Lakers' radio announcer Chick Hearn's signature way of calling a game early, telling fans the home team won ... you can head for the exits before the final buzzer. Chick wrote the book with popular sports phrases like "slam dunk," "air ball," "charity stripe," and a "bunny hop in the pea patch" for a traveling violation.

Chick's our inspiration today: Last March I wrote "6 reasons I'm calling a bottom and a new bull." Today it's time for a new call. We've had a good year. Net gains over 50% in 2009. But now: "Game over, head for the exits." Bears beating bulls.

No, no, "it's a buying opportunity," says another legend, hedge fund manager, Barton Biggs. Buying opportunity? For who? Remember, Biggs isn't advising Joe Lunchbox about what to do with his little 401(k). Biggs' customers are mega-millionaires in his $1.5 billion Traxis Partners Fund. Main Street investors like Joe are prey in his casino.

Read on, you decide: As you stare from high up in the nose-bleed bleachers watching the game, staring at a Dow that not long ago was above 11,000 and heading for 12,000. Now the Dow's sitting on the bench, ready for the showers, weak after a couple air balls around 10,000. No more timeouts. "This game's in the refrigerator."

How bad is your bookie's point spread in this game? A blowout? Will the Dow drop below 9,000 again? Now that it's broken technical supports, will it drop below 6,470, where the last bull rally started in early 2009? Can you handle the nerve-racking volatility generated by Wall Street's high-frequency traders playing the game at warp-speed with algorithms making thousands of micro-bets in milliseconds, betting billions daily?

So who should you listen to? Barton and I arrived at Morgan Stanley about the same time. He stayed decades longer, became one of the world's leading strategists, advising the kind of high-rollers who also bet at private tables in a Vegas casino.

You remember Biggs: In his book "Wealth, War & Wisdom" he advises his high rollers to prepare for a "breakdown of the civilized infrastructure." Buy a farm: "Your safe haven must be self-sufficient and capable of growing some kind of food ... It should be well-stocked with seed, fertilizer, canned food, wine, medicine, clothes, etc. Think Swiss Family Robinson." Biggs is not advising small investors on what to do with their 401(k)s.

If you're gambling at Wall Street's casino, folks, the odds-makers are betting against Biggs. It's "game over."
Main Street lost 20% last decade ... yet like sheep keep going back

Yes, if you're channeling Chick, here's your "mixed metaphor" cue card: "This game's in the refrigerator ... Wall Street won (proof, Goldman's $100-million-profit trading days and Blankfein's $68 million bonus) ... Main Street's headed for another losing streak ... Congress' lights are out ... the refrigerator door's closing on financial reforms ... the lobbyists are laying some rotten eggs, poisoning capitalism ... the Tea Party-of-No-No ideologies are hardening ... the bull's Jell-O is jiggling to a flat line ... and this market's going into hibernation, with the bears ... run, don't walk, to the exits, folks."

But will Main Street exit? Will we ever learn? No. The Wall Street casino makes mega-billions for insiders like Blankfein and the Goldman Conspiracy. Yet "The Casino" is still below the 2000 record of 11,722. So after accounting for inflation, Wall Street lost over 20% of Main Street's 401(k) retirement money between 2000 and 2010. Yes, Wall Street's a big loser the past decade. Their advice is self-serving. Period.

Given their miserable track record, only a fool would bet with Wall Street. Betting odds are Wall Street will lose another 20% in the next decade from 2010-2020. Yes, today's market is a "buying opportunity," but only for Wall Street casino insiders like Biggs, Blankfein and even low-level staffers inside "The Casino." But not for our 95 million Main Street investors, there's more pain ahead, this market's dropping.
Correction? New crash imminent, worse than 2008

More proof: Earlier economist Gary Shilling said price-to-earnings ratios are at a "nosebleed 22.5 level." The Dow was around 11,000. Money manager Jeremy Grantham recently said the market's overvalued 40%. That could mean a collapse to 6,600. Last week in Reuters' "Markets Could Be Derailed Again," George Soros echoed a "game over" warning with a "stark warning ... that the financial world is on the wrong track and that we may be hurtling towards an even bigger boom and bust than in the credit crisis."

Now Dow Theory's Richard Russell is warning the public of an imminent crash: "Sell ... get liquid ... by the end of this year they won't recognize the country."

A bigger meltdown than the credit crisis? Yes, Bush's team drove America into a ditch. But now Obama and his money men, Summers, Geithner, Bernanke, are digging the hole deeper. Soros says we have not learned "the lessons that markets are inherently unstable." As a result, "the success in bailing out the system on the previous occasion led to a super-bubble." Now "we are facing a yet larger bubble." Worse than 2008?

Yes, the game may be "in the refrigerator," the lights will go out, but as Soros hints, the electricity may get turned off too. Get it? This may not be a correction. Not even a bear. What's coming could be worse than the 2000 dot-com crash and the 2008 meltdown combined, a "Super-Bubble" says Soros. And the biggest reason, Nouriel Roubini and Stephen Mihm tell Newsweek, is that "the president's half-measures won't fix our failed financial system" because he refuses to "bust up the too-big-to-fail banks."

Yes, Congress will pass something. But unfortunately, as reported on MSNBC, Senator Dodd, the reform bill's sponsor, is a turncoat, working overtime with Wall Street lobbyists "to weaken financial reform," leave us vulnerable to a new, bigger crash in the near future. And Wall Street lobbyists are spending hundreds of millions to kill reform.

'White Swans:' 2000 and 2008 crashes were predictable, next one too

Recently Roubini was interviewed by Charlie Rose in BusinessWeek. His message confirms the worst. Roubini was questioned about his new book, "Crisis Economics." Rose began by asking, "what have we learned from these crises of capitalism?" Roubini could easily have said, "nothing, we learned nothing." His actual reply:

"The first lesson is that crises are not 'black swan' events ... they're not just random outcomes. They are the result of a buildup of financial and policy vulnerability and mistakes -- excessive risk-taking, leverage, debt, and so on." They are 'White Swans' "because these events are predictable. But generation after generation, we seem to forget the past. When there's a bubble, there's euphoria. There's irrational exuberance. Consumers can use their homes like ATM machines. Governments and policy makers are happy because they get reelected. Wall Street makes billions of dollars of profits. Everybody's delusional."

Sound familiar? Yes indeed, in "This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly," economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff pinpoint the key signal that will blow the whistle and call the game: The "90% ratio of government debt to GDP is a tipping point in economic growth." For 800 years "you increase it over and beyond a high threshold, and boom!"

Warning, fans, the numbers on the game-clock are flashing wildly. America's ratio is now 92%, thanks to Obama's $1.7 trillion budget, future deficits, exploding debt. Soon, Ka-Booom! Another great nation bites the dust. Depression follows. Goodbye retirement.
Warning: 800 years of history are calling 'game over'

But can't we change destiny? Or are Dodd, Congress, Obama, Wall Street, the Party of No-No and 300 million Americans all just playing their parts in a historical script well-known to historians like Reinhart and Rogoff, Kevin Phillips, Niall Ferguson and others? The message of "This Time Is Different" is very simple:

"We have been here before. No matter how different the latest financial frenzy or crisis always appears, there are usually remarkable similarities from past experience from other countries and from history. ... no country, irrespective of its global importance, appears to be immune to it. The fading memories of borrowers and lenders, policy makers and academics, and the public at large do not seem to improve over time, so the policy lessons on how to 'avoid' the next blow-up are at best limited."

So please listen closely: All the TARP bailouts, stimulus debt and Fed loans won't work. Neither will a new conservative government. This is not a basketball game. We are not channeling Chick Hearn, calling this game before the final buzzer. While we prefer the illusion that "this time really is different," eight centuries of history suggest otherwise:

"The lesson of history, then, is that even as institutions and policy makers improve there will always be a temptation to stretch the limits. ... If there is one common theme to the vast range of crises ... it is that excessive debt accumulation, whether it be by the government, banks, corporations, or consumers, often poses greater systemic risks than it seems during a boom. ... Highly indebted governments, banks, or corporations can seem to be merrily rolling along for an extended period, when bang -- confidence collapses, lenders disappear and a crisis hits. ... Highly leveraged economies ... seldom survive forever ... history does point to warnings signs that policy makers can look to access risk -- if only they do not become too drunk with their credit bubble-fueled success and say, as their predecessors have for centuries, 'This time is different'."

No, "this time" it's never different. Get it? In the end, it doesn't matter what happens to the Dodd-Obama financial reforms. The endgame's never a Black Swan, it's a very White Swan well known to historians -- guaranteed, inevitable and inescapable. This time is never different.

The clock's flashing. Huge point spread. Think bear, think crash, think end of capitalism, think Great Depression II ... This is no buying opportunity, this game's in the refrigerator, call it.


Drug Wars in Jamaica.

In the past decade countries such as the Cayman Islands, Britain, and Costa Rica have imposed visa restrictions for Jamaicans, citing the number of crimes committed by Jamaican nationals and drug trafficking as the underlying factors.

The following table includes the number Jamaicans living in the United States. "Jamaicans" are defined as people who marked their ethnic origin as "Jamaican" on the Census survey in 1990 and/or 2000.

  • Total Number (1990) 435,024
  • Total Number (2000) 736,513
  • Change 1990-2000 - increase of 301,489
  • % Change 1990-2000- up 69%.

Bodies pile up in Jamaica's assault for drug kingpin Published on 26 May 2010 - 1:32am
Trucks laden with bodies rushed to hospitals in Jamaica's capital as the government vowed an all-out assault to nab a powerful alleged drug kingpin barricaded by his gang in the teeming slums.

Hospital sources said they saw more than 60 bodies, although police put the death toll at 27. But Prime Minister Bruce Golding warned the figures would likely rise, and police late Tuesday reported several murders.

Gun-toting troops and police circled the streets into the night as rain descended on Kingston, an impoverished Caribbean city ringed by mountains that is a world away from the sun-kissed beaches for which Jamaica is best known.

Supporters set up tree branches, old cars and even abandoned refrigerators to form makeshift barricades to seal off the stronghold of local don Christopher "Dudus" Coke, who is wanted by the United States on drug charges.

Coke has developed a loyal following among some slum-dwellers, who see him as a savior for offering jobs, education and security that are sorely lacking. He also had developed ties with the political establishment.

But after months of stalling, Golding on Sunday declared a state of emergency to arrest Coke, declaring a battle to rid this nation of its image as one of the world's murder capitals.

"The violence that has been unleashed on the society by armed, criminal elements must be repelled," Golding told a heated session of parliament, where opposition members accused him of creating the crisis by earlier inaction.

"The operations being carried out under emergency powers are an extraordinary response to an extraordinary challenge to the safety and security of our citizens," Golding said.

But he pledged to investigate any excesses in the assault, which is being carried out by police and troops backed by clattering helicopters.

"The government deeply regrets the loss of lives of members of the security forces, and those of innocent law-abiding citizens who were caught in the crossfire," Golding said.

With violence turning some of the city's slum areas into a war zone, three trucks loaded with bodies, including a baby, unloaded their grim cargo at a morgue in one of the main hospital complexes, witnesses said.

Gunfire rattled around the city, as plumes of smoke hung above Tivoli Gardens which Coke's supporters had barricaded last week to thwart his arrest.

Hospital officials told AFP that early Tuesday two trucks bearing "about 50" bodies had been unloaded at the morgue at the Kingston Public Hospital.

An AFP correspondent saw a third truck arrive full of bullet-riddled corpses, including a baby, later in the day. A nurse said there were 12 bodies inside, and they came from a different area to the east of the city called Mountain View.

Police also told AFP they have detained 211 people, including four women.

But National Security Minister Dwight Nelson told a press conference that Coke, 42, had not yet been detained.

"Up to the last briefing I got, the answer is no," Nelson said.

Federal prosecutors in New York last year accused Coke of running an armed network that has been a major supplier of cocaine and marijuana to New York and other US cities.

With rumors swirling among Kingston residents of US support for the effort to arrest Coke, both the US and Jamaican government insisted that the operation was primarily local.

State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said in Washington that the main support offered by the United States was bullet-proof vests.

Coke calls himself a mere businessman. But the battle to capture him threatens dire consequences for an already troubled economy.

Tourism officials have voiced alarm at the damage to the image of Jamaica, where a million tourists each year flock to beaches to soak up some sun and the sounds of reggae music.

Tourism brings in valuable hard currency to Jamaica. Yet most tourists do not venture into Kingston, long considered the most dangerous part of a country that has 1,700 murders a year for a population of 2.8 million.

Britain, Canada and the United States all warned their citizens against travel to Kingston.

Authorities declared that most schools would remain closed for a second day on Wednesday. Monday, the first full day since the assault, was a public holiday.

Most Kingston residents heeded calls to stay indoors -- and those who didn't found little to keep them on the streets.

"For me, this situation just mean no business," said a woman named Janice who ambled through deserted streets with a stack of unsold tabloid newspapers on her head, the headline reading, "Taking Back Tivoli."


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Nigel Farage Warned of Euro Meltdown One Year Ago

Here is the link on the Farage speech

How sinister is the LIBOR rise?
Robert Peston | 00:00 UK time, Tuesday, 25 May 2010 BBC

The interest rate at which banks lend to each other in dollars, the famous BBA three-month dollar LIBOR rate, has been creeping up day after inexorable day since the end of February.

The cumulative impact has been a doubling of that rate during those 90 odd days, to more than 0.5 per cent yesterday - the highest three-month dollar LIBOR rate for something like 10 months.

What does it all mean?

As you'll probably recall, when LIBOR rose relative to central banks' official funding rates in an almost unbroken sequence from the summer of 2007 till the autumn of 2008 - when Lehman collapsed - the causes were sinister.

It was the most visible manifestation of perhaps the worst liquidity crisis the world's big banks had ever experienced.

A whole series of wholesale markets in which banks had raised hundreds of billions of dollars closed down. And there was no great pool of cash elsewhere to make up for this great loss of finance - so the interest rates at which banks lent to each soared.

As 2007 turned into 2008, this liquidity crisis transmogrified into a solvency crisis, as the shortage of finance led to sharp falls in the price of assets, especially property and loans to property, which generated huge losses for banks.

The horrible consequence was that a liquidity crisis became a catastrophic solvency crisis: one enormous investment bank, Lehman, went bust, and a series of other financial institutions would have followed Lehman to the graveyard if taxpayers hadn't resuscitated them with unprecedented injections of new capital.

What's more, central banks have - since the Lehman debacle - created unprecedented amounts of new money, and have lent record sums to banks.

That means it's difficult to argue that banks are suffering from a liquidity crunch on anything like the scale of 2007 and 2008.

And if you want evidence that banks really can't be chronically short of cash, just look at how little the European Central Bank has increased its loans to banks over the past 18 days or so: its net funding for banks has risen just 6 per cent or so, which is hardly proof of banks gasping for liquidity.

What's more the take-up of dollar loans by the ECB under swap arrangements with the US Fed has been paltry, even though the LIBOR prices indicate that the peak of stress for banks is in the dollar funding market.

All a bit odd. Unless you think that what's going on is the reverse of the trends of 2007-8.

It could be that this time a solvency problem is wagging the liquidity dog, rather than a liquidity shortage giving a good shake to the solvency dog.

Or to put it another way, it may be that what's persuading banks' creditors to demand a higher rate for their loans is the expectation that European banks' will suffer big losses on their holdings of assorted eurozone government bonds and their loans to assorted European property markets.

The rising price of Libor may be based on the belief that a possible default by the Greek government on its debts, or a further downward lurch in the value of Spanish property, could generate unsustainably high losses for a number of big European banks.

Or to put it another way, the LIBOR rise may be saying that the eurozone's fiscal crisis could be the precursor to the demolition of some substantial, thinly capitalised European banks.

Which would be the most worrying interpretation of the LIBOR rise.

There is however a more benign explanation.

The thrust of anticipated bank reforms - whether they're the Obama reforms or the increases in capital and liquidity ratios to be demanded of banks by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision - are likely to have the effect of increasing the costs for banks of lending.

And if the costs for banks of lending were to rise, that would mean that banks themselves would have to pay more for their credit, along with the rest of us (ouch). Hey presto, three-month dollar Libor rises in a semi-permanent way.

As it happens, there is one more explanation of the LIBOR rise: that disunited regulators, central bankers and government heads are largely united by a single reforming ambition, which is to put in place new legal structures for big banks that would allow them to fail without crippling the economy.

Here's the paradox. If big banks can be allowed to fail, if they could no longer be certain that they'd be bailed out by taxpayers in a crisis, the risks of lending to them rise.

So in sanitising the banks, in turning them from weapons of mass destruction into more conventional businesses that can be permitted to go bust, they become less attractive to creditors, who would obviously demand a higher LIBOR interest rate.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Is There Any Problem That Gets Better With More People?

Take your pick: medical care, food production, forest reserves, farmland, fossil fuels, automobile traffic, military conflict, education, air travel, water, fish population or good old quality of life. Greater populations stress just about everything.

There are the Panglossian dreams that more workers will produce more taxes for more government services, but the demand for services will always outsrip the supply of revenue.

The same applies to everything else. The more a human being has, the more they want. As there is no infinite resource, by logic there is a cap and a diminishing curve of supply of just about everything. At some point the demand curve will always rise above the supply curve.

Did Israel Attempt to Supply Nuclear Capabilities to Apartheid South Africa?

Is this story true? The evidence presented by the Guardian

This Guardian article about a proposal for Israel to supply nuclear weapons to South Africa has some interesting implications for other aspiring nuclear powers in the Middle East, namely Iran. How does one argue against Iran having nuclear weapons if the only nuclear power in the Middle East, Israel, has given serious consideration to sell the weapons to a state such as South Africa?

Does that not give moral cover to an Iranian argument for wanting nuclear balance with nuclear Israel?

How did Israel get the technology to develop its nuclear capability?

If the story is true, does that not present an ethical conundrum for the United States?

It could be argued that no Middle East power should have nuclear weapons (as if we could do anything about it) because even Israel was tempted to spread and distribute nuclear weapons to third parties, clearly an action hostile to stated US policy.

Does this story provide an argument for the Iranians to justify the legitimacy of their need for an Iranian nuclear deterrent?

Does this story, if true, undercut the justification for a vehement US policy against Iranian nuclear aspirations?


Revealed: how Israel offered to sell South Africa nuclear weapons
Exclusive: Secret apartheid-era papers give first official evidence of Israeli nuclear weapons

Chris McGreal in Washington, Sunday 23 May 2010 21.00 BST

Secret South African documents reveal that Israel offered to sell nuclear warheads to the apartheid regime, providing the first official documentary evidence of the state's possession of nuclear weapons.

The "top secret" minutes of meetings between senior officials from the two countries in 1975 show that South Africa's defence minister, PW Botha, asked for the warheads and Shimon Peres, then Israel's defence minister and now its president, responded by offering them "in three sizes". The two men also signed a broad-ranging agreement governing military ties between the two countries that included a clause declaring that "the very existence of this agreement" was to remain secret.

The documents, uncovered by an American academic, Sasha Polakow-Suransky, in research for a book on the close relationship between the two countries, provide evidence that Israel has nuclear weapons despite its policy of "ambiguity" in neither confirming nor denying their existence.

The Israeli authorities tried to stop South Africa's post-apartheid government declassifying the documents at Polakow-Suransky's request and the revelations will be an embarrassment, particularly as this week's nuclear non-proliferation talks in New York focus on the Middle East.

They will also undermine Israel's attempts to suggest that, if it has nuclear weapons, it is a "responsible" power that would not misuse them, whereas countries such as Iran cannot be trusted.

South African documents show that the apartheid-era military wanted the missiles as a deterrent and for potential strikes against neighbouring states.

The documents show both sides met on 31 March 1975. Polakow-Suransky writes in his book published in the US this week, The Unspoken Alliance: Israel's secret alliance with apartheid South Africa. At the talks Israeli officials "formally offered to sell South Africa some of the nuclear-capable Jericho missiles in its arsenal".

Among those attending the meeting was the South African military chief of staff, Lieutenant General RF Armstrong. He immediately drew up a memo in which he laid out the benefits of South Africa obtaining the Jericho missiles but only if they were fitted with nuclear weapons.

The memo, marked "top secret" and dated the same day as the meeting with the Israelis, has previously been revealed but its context was not fully understood because it was not known to be directly linked to the Israeli offer on the same day and that it was the basis for a direct request to Israel. In it, Armstrong writes: "In considering the merits of a weapon system such as the one being offered, certain assumptions have been made: a) That the missiles will be armed with nuclear warheads manufactured in RSA (Republic of South Africa) or acquired elsewhere."

But South Africa was years from being able to build atomic weapons. A little more than two months later, on 4 June, Peres and Botha met in Zurich. By then the Jericho project had the codename Chalet.

The top secret minutes of the meeting record that: "Minister Botha expressed interest in a limited number of units of Chalet subject to the correct payload being available." The document then records: "Minister Peres said the correct payload was available in three sizes. Minister Botha expressed his appreciation and said that he would ask for advice." The "three sizes" are believed to refer to the conventional, chemical and nuclear weapons.

The use of a euphemism, the "correct payload", reflects Israeli sensitivity over the nuclear issue and would not have been used had it been referring to conventional weapons. It can also only have meant nuclear warheads as Armstrong's memorandum makes clear South Africa was interested in the Jericho missiles solely as a means of delivering nuclear weapons.

In addition, the only payload the South Africans would have needed to obtain from Israel was nuclear. The South Africans were capable of putting together other warheads.

Botha did not go ahead with the deal in part because of the cost. In addition, any deal would have to have had final approval by Israel's prime minister and it is uncertain it would have been forthcoming.

South Africa eventually built its own nuclear bombs, albeit possibly with Israeli assistance. But the collaboration on military technology only grew over the following years. South Africa also provided much of the yellowcake uranium that Israel required to develop its weapons.

The documents confirm accounts by a former South African naval commander, Dieter Gerhardt – jailed in 1983 for spying for the Soviet Union. After his release with the collapse of apartheid, Gerhardt said there was an agreement between Israel and South Africa called Chalet which involved an offer by the Jewish state to arm eight Jericho missiles with "special warheads". Gerhardt said these were atomic bombs. But until now there has been no documentary evidence of the offer.

Some weeks before Peres made his offer of nuclear warheads to Botha, the two defence ministers signed a covert agreement governing the military alliance known as Secment. It was so secret that it included a denial of its own existence: "It is hereby expressly agreed that the very existence of this agreement... shall be secret and shall not be disclosed by either party".

The agreement also said that neither party could unilaterally renounce it.

The existence of Israel's nuclear weapons programme was revealed by Mordechai Vanunu to the Sunday Times in 1986. He provided photographs taken inside the Dimona nuclear site and gave detailed descriptions of the processes involved in producing part of the nuclear material but provided no written documentation.

Documents seized by Iranian students from the US embassy in Tehran after the 1979 revolution revealed the Shah expressed an interest to Israel in developing nuclear arms. But the South African documents offer confirmation Israel was in a position to arm Jericho missiles with nuclear warheads.

Israel pressured the present South African government not to declassify documents obtained by Polakow-Suransky. "The Israeli defence ministry tried to block my access to the Secment agreement on the grounds it was sensitive material, especially the signature and the date," he said. "The South Africans didn't seem to care; they blacked out a few lines and handed it over to me. The ANC government is not so worried about protecting the dirty laundry of the apartheid regime's old allies."

BP Oil Spill - Day 34

Is there anyone competent to at least stop the leak?

It is encouraging that Obama is putting together a commisssion to investigate, the reaction of a lawyer as oppossed to a leader who can take charge and bring the resources of industry and the US military to bear on this disaster.

Did you see the pictures of the Army Corps of Engineers and the massing of National Guard units to build protective barriers?


12:00 AM CDT on Monday, May 24, 2010
Dallas News

Developments Sunday in the oil spill from BP's blown-out well in the Gulf of Mexico:

OIL CREEPING IN: Oil from the slick was pushing at least 12 miles into Louisiana's marshes, and two major pelican rookeries were coated in crude. Wildlife officials tried to rescue oil-soaked pelicans but suspended the attempt after spooking the birds.

CONTAINMENT EFFORTS: BP said a tube inserted into the leaking well pipe – its only successful effort so far at curtailing the spill – was siphoning less oil this weekend than it had earlier in the week. But the company had said the amount would vary widely from day to day.

NEXT TRY: BP said it will begin Tuesday at the earliest another effort to stop the leak: shooting heavy mud, and then cement, into the blown well.

BERM WORK BEGINS: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said the state has begun work on a chain of berms, reinforced with containment booms, that would skirt the state's coastline. They would be made with sandbags and sand hauled in; the Army Corps of Engineers also is considering a broader plan that would use dredging to build sand berms across more of the barrier islands.

PROMISES: Saying that promises of more supplies frequently fell through, Jindal said he was going to send members of the Louisiana National Guard and Wildlife and Fisheries agents to monitor the oil and even to locate boom and other response supplies, which he and other officials said were available but sitting unused.

Sunday, May 23, 2010



HOROSCOPE – GEMINI (May 21 – June 20)

Origin – Third sign of the zodiac; named after Castor and Pollux, twin stars and heroic brothers in Greek mythology.

Controlling Planet – Mercury

Lucky Day – Wednesday

Color – Yellow/Orange

Element – Air

Symbol – Twins

Lucky Number - Five

Compatible Signs – Libra, Aquarius, Gemini

Incompatible Signs – Scorpio, Capricorn

Famous Gemini – Che Guavera, Donald Trump, Marilyn Monroe, Patrick Henry, Ice Cube, John Maynard Keynes, Boy George, Blaise Pascal, Bob Hope, Sam Snead, Jim Thorpe, John Kennedy, George Bush, Jean Paul Sartre, Brigham Young

Gemini Quote (Male) – Salman Rushdie “What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist

Gemini Quote (Male) – William Pitt “Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom: it is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.”

Gemini Quote (Male) – Drew Carey “You know that look women get when they want sex? Me neither!”

Gemini Quote (Male) – Johnny Depp “The only gossip I'm interested in is in the Weekly World News - 'Woman's bra burst, 11 injured.' That kind of thing”

Gemini Quote (Female) – Brooke Shields “If my jeans could talk, would I be embarrassed?”

Attributes – Mental brilliance, Diplomacy, Vivacity, Enthusiasm, Tact, Cheerfulness, Witty, Versatile, Superficial, Narcissistic, Vain, Indecisive, Prevaricates, Lazy, Untidy, Cunning, Nervous and Tense.

Appropriate Gemini Pets – Wolves which are seen as the nurturing force for those other twins, Romulus and Remus, is the only truly appropriate pet for the Gemini. However, most cities including Moscow, Idaho will not allow them as pets. Therefore, the Gemini should settle for a pet that doesn’t require constant attention such as a snake or worm.

Geminis tend to have dual natures. As such they offer many contradictions.

Physically, the Gemini tends to be small-boned and vertically challenged. They are often two-faced and are capable of speaking out of both sides of their mouth. They are quick and nimble and enjoy fast-paced, exciting sports with lots of action. Most jai alai players are Gemini. They have bright eyes that are constantly darting about trying to observe everything. This can be very disconcerting to anyone trying to explain anything to them. Chewing bores them. They are constantly hurting themselves by touching stoves to see how hot they are.

In social and romantic situations the Gemini duality is again obvious. Most Geminis are hermaphrodites. They like exciting, unorthodox, experimental relationships many of which because of archaic laws are still illegal in most states. They are easily bored with relationships, their family and even their kids. They are constantly looking for something new. Angelina Jolie is a Gemini. The Gemini divorce rates are exceedingly high. They will often pick fights with themselves if no one else is around.

The Geminis are quick and intelligent thinkers. Wit is their forte. They have a sharp humor and love to laugh. They are avid readers and love puns and wordplay. However, because of their dual natures they can also be quarrelsome, boasters, liars, and cheats.

It is natural for them to think on more than one level at a time. They need constant stimulation. LSD is their drug of choice.

Everyone loves a neurotic schizophrenic and the Gemini is well liked by those who don’t know them very well.

Because of their quick wit and intelligence, Geminis typically make good artists, actors, and authors. They are not good at boring, repetitive jobs or jobs that require them to be responsible for the welfare of others. No Gemini has ever won the Indy 500 since though they like the multicolored cars they tend to get bored and distracted at about mile 18. Likewise, they should not be policemen or baby sitters.

In personal finance, the Gemini often expects too much for too little. In other words he is cheap. However, this doesn’t prevent him from buying new toys and capricious whims for himself. He counters this tendency by buying old books and used x-box games as gifts for friends and relatives on holidays.

2010 Horoscope (Gemini)

Unfortunately, every year is a rough year for the Gemini usually because they make it so for themselves.

You will soon be approached by a man from a company called “Souls R Us” offering you a valuable service.

This year, in a bout of pique or boredom, you will once again quit all the blogs you currently post to. When you eventually come back as you invariably always do it will be with a new avatar and screen name such as Boudica or Xena.

You will visit the Grand Canyon for the first time and be disappointed.

In June, you will meet the love of your life. In July, you will meet the new love of your life. And in August, you will meet the newest love of your life.

In September, Mary (your personality #3) and Helen (your personality #5) will have a dispute about the Feng Shui placement of your strobe light and glitter ball and will not talk to each other for the rest of the year.

In October, you will once more host your annual “Most Interesting People in the World” party. As advertised, the guest list will include many of the world’s most interesting people. The surf and turf buffet will be prepared by world class chefs from Europe and the Far East and will include Asian Blowfish and other dishes prepared from exotic and endangered species.

The entertainment will include several classic rock bands and will be headlined by Lady Ga Ga. As a special treat there will be an octagon death match between Pope Benedict VI and Christopher Hitchens. To even the odds, the match will take place after the cocktail hour (Based on this fact, Vegas odds currently favor Il Papa by a wide margin.).

As usual, you will grow bored quickly and retire to bed by 8:30, long before fireworks begin and the elephants arrive.

In December, you will experience severe mood swings just like those in November and previous months.

Avoid bright shiny objects, mirrors, and hot stoves.

Next Month: Cancer (monthly personalized horoscopes available by request)

• This month we will be offering a new service, numerology readings. Rate cards are available explaining the service along with our latest pamphlet: Gemini and the Number Five: A Five Lane Superhighway to Heaven, or to Hell, or to Both if you like.

• Private readings still available for female members of the EB.

• We are continuing to offer souls for sale under our exclusive “Souls R Us” brand. Souls are continuing to poor in from our New Zealand suppliers but we have recently received notice from the EPA of complaints lodged by our neighbors regarding “soul leakage” from around our warehouses. Therefore, we are further extending our previous offer and will be giving souls packaged in jelly jars, empty votive candle containers, virgin olive oil cans, and five gallon pails as free prizes to anyone using any of our other services (horoscope, tarot or numerology readings).

[Note: Souls will also be available free to anyone having a pick-up truck or small van.]

• Discounts are available to fellow Rosicrucian’s. Bartering alternative available. Secret knowledge accepted. Secret knowledge from ancient Babylonia and Atlantis preferred.