Bad Deeds for 5-11-2010

 

Waste From Overkill: The U.S. Navy Battle Fleet is Larger Than the Next 13 Navies Combined – Defense Secretary Robert Gates asked in a weekend speech at the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene, Kansas, “Does the number of warships we have and are building really put America at risk when the U.S. battle fleet is larger than the next 13 navies combined, 11 of which belong to allies and partners? Is it a dire threat that by 2020 the United States will have only 20 times more advanced stealth fighters than China?”

Gates said defense spending was roughly twice the share of the U.S. economy in Eisenhower’s day — “but today, we face a very different set of American economic and fiscal realities.”

The U.S. defense budget has more than doubled since the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Since taking office in 2006, Gates has managed to cut some of the Pentagon’s major weapons systems, but efforts to kill other programs have been defeated under heavy pressure from military contractors and members of Congress.

 

Oil Drilling and Mining is Killing the Earth (and Us) – As oil continues to flood into the Gulf of Mexico, we are reminded of just how environmentally destructive humans can be. But this isn’t the first time a drilling rig has caused a major catastrophe. Here are some major disasters where people have completely ruined the environment:

Picher, Oklahoma
Called the most toxic place in the United States by the EPA, it was once the world’s richest lead and zinc mining field, and home to 20,000 people. Now fewer than 25 people remain. Acidic water seeped up from the underground mining tunnels and turned the creek that runs through the area red and poisonous. The deteriorating underground mines threaten to swallow the streets whole, and mountains of mining waste contaminated with lead loom over the empty town.

The Gates Of Hell, Turkmenistan
In the desert in Turkmenistan is a hole 328 ft. wide that has been on fire, continuously, for 38 years. In 1971, a Soviet drilling rig accidentally punched into a massive underground natural gas cavern, causing the ground to collapse and the entire drilling rig to fall in. Poisonous fumes began leaking from the hole. To head off a potential deadly catastrophe, the hole was set aflame.
The Berkeley Pit, Montana

The Berkeley Pit Lake is a copper mine filled with more than 40 billion gallons of acidic water and heavy metals. In November 1995, a flock of migrating snow geese landed there, resulting in the death of 342 birds.

The Sidoarjo Mud Volcano
In May 2006, gas drilling on the Indonesian island of Java triggered a “mud volcano” killing 13 people. Since then, hot sulfuric mud has been continually gushing from the ground in Sidoarjo. The steaming pool of mud already covers more than 25 square kilometers and is growing at an estimated 50,000 cubic meters–the equivalent of a dozen Olympic swimming pools–every day. Scientists expect the mud volcano to continue erupting for another 30 years.

Centralia, Pennsylvania
The massive coal fire underneath Centralia, Pennsylvania ignited sometime in 1962 and has been burning since. National awareness of Centralia’s unending environmental catastrophe came in 1981 when a 12-year-old boy fell into a 150-foot hole that suddenly appeared in his back yard. Most residents were relocated in 1984, and in 1992 the entire town was condemned.

West Virginia Mountain Top Removal Mines
Entire green mountains gone, streams filed with debris and sludge. They are so big that they are easily visible on Google Maps satellite view.

Nauru, Micronesia
Decades of strip mining for phosphorus have devastated over 80 percent of Nauru’s land, leaving it a barren wasteland of jagged limestone pinnacles up to 49 ft. high. With its reserves depleted, the country’s economy collapsed, and the devastation left by strip mining mostly eliminated the chance of establishing a tourist industry. Today Nauru has just a 150-meter-wide strip of fertile land left along one of its shores.

 

Top Republican Strategist Advises GOP To Prolong SCOTUS Fight To Block Obama Agenda – For Republicans, it’s about gaining power, not about what’s good for our country.

In an April 22 conference call with RNC members, activist Curt Levey, director of the conservative Committee for Justice, offered Republican operatives candid strategic advice, pressing them to put up a fight against even the most moderate of judges, and providing a glimpse of the GOP’s playbook for obstructing Obama nominees.

The crux of the GOP’s strategy is to use Obama’s nominee to wedge vulnerable Democratic senators away from the party, and drag the confirmation fight out until the August congressional recess, to eat up precious time Democrats need to round out their agenda.

“[I]t wouldn’t take much GOP resistance to push a final vote into early August,” Levey advised. “And, look, the closer we could get it to the election, frankly, the better. It would be great if we could push it past the August recess because that forces the red and purple state Democrats to have to go home and face their constituents.”

 

Republican Lie: Taxes Have Gone Up – Amid complaints about high taxes and calls for a smaller government, Americans paid their lowest level of taxes last year since Harry Truman’s presidency, a USA TODAY analysis of federal data found.

Some conservative political movements such as the “Tea Party” have criticized federal spending as being out of control. While spending is up, taxes have fallen to exceptionally low levels.

Federal, state and local taxes — including income, property, sales and other taxes — consumed 9.2% of all personal income in 2009, the lowest rate since 1950, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reports. That rate is far below the historic average of 12% for the last half-century. The overall tax burden hit bottom in December at 8.8.% of income before rising slightly in the first three months of 2010.

 

Look How Your Tax Bill has Changed Over the Years – This tax calculator will give you a rough idea of your federal tax bill — and where your tax money went — from 1940 through 2010, adjusted for inflation.

 

You’re Guilty – While Republicans decry the encroachments into the Constitution by the federal government’s social programs under a Democratic administration, some have no hesitancy in encroaching on the Bill of Rights in the name of national security. With the arrest of Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square bomber, they have renewed their clamor that terrorist suspects should not be given Miranda warnings or other constitutional rights; that they should be subjected to “enhanced interrogation”; and that they should be processed in military tribunals rather than civilian courts.

The entire argument is predicated upon the presumption of guilt. Let’s look at facts of this very case. For a considerable period of time, law enforcement (and I imagine a vast majority of the world) suspected the man seen on a security camera taking off and changing his shirt and looking furtively at the car with the bomb in it was the terrorist. He turned out to be completely innocent, but for some time, he was clearly a suspect. If arrested, should he have been given his Miranda warnings and other constitutional rights; should he have been subjected to “enhanced interrogation”; should he have been processed in a military tribunal, if they decided to proceed against him?

We cannot have two systems of justice depending on how strong the case is against the suspected terrorist — the person probably guilty forfeiting constitutional rights and the person possibly innocent retaining them. Neither anger nor fear is sufficient to diminish constitutional rights which protect us all — the innocent along with the guilty.

Regards,

Jim

 

 

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About Jim Vogas

Texas A&M Aggie, Retired aerospace engineer, former union member, Vietnam vet, Demcratic Party organizer, husband and father.

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