Monday, September 23, 2013

Goldman Sachs Reach

Should the United States Intervene Militarily in Syria Over the Assad Regime's Use of Chemical Weapons?

The 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) prohibits the production, acquisition, stockpiling, transfer, retention, and use of chemical weapons (classified as WMD under Title 50, USC). Syria is not a signatory.

A UN inspection team reported that the nerve agent sarin, a fluorinated organophosphate, was used in the Ghouta area of Damascus on 21 August 2013. Some 3600 people were affected; 355 died. The U.S. presented convincing evidence that the Bashar al-Assad government was responsible for the attack. Assad denies this.

Assad also denied having chemical weapons, but has now agreed, as part of a US - Russia brokered deal, to sign the CWC and place his chemical weapons under the control of the UN-affiliated Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Syria has already submitted an initial declaration outlining its inventory of chemical weapons to the OPCW.

Identifying all of Syria’s chemical weapons and chemical weapons manufacturing facilities and materiel will be a massive undertaking fraught with difficulties. Nevertheless, the process should be allowed to proceed under the auspices of the OPCW. US military intervention in Syria should be undertaken only as a last resort, should the Assad government fail to abide by its CWC obligations.

The US should now concentrate its efforts on effecting a ceasefire in the Syrian civil war, in which, according to UN estimates, over 100,000 people have been killed.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Republicans Improve Nutrition for America's Poor

Sixteen million American children live in poverty. Many go hungry.
The House of Representatives made drastic cuts to the Nation's food stamp program under a bill titled, H.R. 3102: Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act of 2013. Under the bill put forward and supported by all but a few Republicans, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) would be cut by $40 billion over ten years. You have to be exceptionally needy to qualify for SNAP (for example, a family of 4 can only have a net income of $1921/mo.), but Republicans feel that too many people receiving benefits from the program would get out and work (or beg on the streets), if they were only starving (some more).

Republicans see a family of 4 on SNAP receiving a handout from the government of $668/mo., or $5.56/day each, and recoil in outrage. "What the hell! Our fossil fuel industry only receives upwards of $52 billion a year, and that has to support the whole damned industry!"
Louie ("go crazy") Gohmert (R-TX)
Under SNAP currently, people between 18 and 50 who do not have any dependent children can get SNAP benefits only for 3 months in a 36-month period, if they do not work or participate in a workfare or employment and training program other than job search. With some exceptions, able-bodied adults between 16 and 60 must register for work, accept suitable employment, and take part in an employment and training program to which they are referred by the local office. Failure to comply with these requirements can result in disqualification from the Program.

One of the things that irks Republicans the most is Michelle Obama's eat healthy program. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) demands to know, "Who's she to tell us how to eat?! Look at her big butt." Clinically obese, Sensenbrenner objects to the First Lady's initiative on two counts: (1) he's not about to give up beer and brats, and (2) he's trying to pass a "nutrition reform" bill that will make "eating healthy" impossible for 16 million American kids.
Jim Sensenbrenner letting it all hang out.
Those of us from Washington State's 4th district need not ask how our representative, Doc Hastings voted. He voted "Yea," because he's a dyed-in-the-wool, go along with the pack, Republican hack, and no one is hungry in his district. Except that people are living in poverty in Pasco and Kennewick at higher levels than state and national averages, and one in seven people in Benton and Franklin Counties are facing hunger.
"Five dollars a day per child is just too darned much!"

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

It could happen again

Deja vu all over again? Financial reform continues to be fought tooth and nail by financial industry lobbyists and their minions in Congress. If Republicans succeed in shuting down the government over the debt ceiling debate and the Affordable Care Act, it could happen again. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Universal Background Checks

Universal background checks wouldn't have stopped
the Navy Yard mass shootingor the
Hialeah apartment shooting
Santa Monica rampage
Pinewood Village Apartment shooting
Mohawk Valley shootings
Newtown school shooting
Accent Signage Systems shooting
Sikh temple shooting
Aurora theater shooting
Seattle cafe shooting
Oikos University killings
Su Jung Health Sauna shooting
Seal Beach shooting
IHOP shooting
Tucson shooting
Hartford Beer Distributor shooting
Coffee shop police killings
Fort Hood massacre
Binghamton shootings
Carthage nursing home shooting
Atlantis Plastics shooting
Northern Illinois University shooting
Kirkwood City Council shooting
Westroads Mall shooting
Crandon shooting
Virginia Tech massacre
Trolley Square shooting
Amish school shooting
Capitol Hill massacre
Goleta postal shootings
Red Lake massacre
Living Church of God shooting
Damageplan show shooting
Lockheed Martin shooting
Navistar shooting
Wakefield massacre
or the...

Friday, September 6, 2013

Alien Life on Earth

The Mexican Axolotl
The Mexican axolotl (pronounced ACK-suh-LAH-tuhl) salamander has the rare trait of retaining its larval features throughout its adult life. This condition, called neoteny, means it keeps its tadpole-like dorsal fin, which runs almost the length of its body, and its feathery external gills, which protrude from the back of its wide head. It also seems to allow the Axolotl to regenerate lost body parts, including parts of its brain.

Found exclusively in the lake complex of Xochimilco (pronounced SO-chee-MILL-koh) near Mexico City, axolotls differ from most other salamanders in that they live permanently in water. In extremely rare cases, an axolotl will progress to maturity and emerge from the water, but by and large, they are content to stay on the bottom of Xochimilco’s lakes and canals.

Close relatives of the tiger salamander, axolotls can be quite large, reaching up to a foot (30 centimeters) in length, although the average size is closer to half that. They are typically black or mottled brown, but albino and white varieties are somewhat common, particularly among captive specimens.
Axolotls are long-lived, surviving up to 15 years on a diet of mollusks, worms, insect larvae, crustaceans, and some fish. Accustomed to being a top predator in its habitat, this species has begun to suffer from the introduction of large fish into its lake habitat. Natural threats include predatory birds such as herons.

Populations are in decline as the demands of nearby Mexico City have led to the draining and contamination of much of the waters of the Xochimilco Lake complex. They are also popular in the aquarium trade, and roasted axolotl is considered a delicacy in Mexico, further shrinking their numbers. They are considered a critically endangered species.