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KickAss Gear News Archive: September 2005

September 30th

"Megaphone Miller" Released to Continue Pro-Bush Propaganda Campaign

Judith Miller, the Bush Administration’s mega-megaphone on the immediate threat of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, was released from jail after a 12 week hiatus in her purveyance of pro-Bush propaganda.

Protection of sources has been stated as the reason for Judith Miller’s refusal to testify in the Valerie Wilson CIA leak case. So what’s wrong with that picture? Are all “leaks” from the White House created equal? Of course not. Leaks from the Clinton White House were leaks in the true sense of the word; invariably bad for the occupants. Leaks from the Bush White House are orchestrated and polished bits of pro-administration propaganda, dutifully delivered to the electorate by the likes of Miller as if they were real news. The fact is that journalists should know the difference between “purposeful leaks”, and “damaging leaks”. Damaging leaks never find egress from the Bush White House.

Miller and others will say that they need to protect their anonymous sources, or the flow of “information” will stop, and “journalists” will not be able to report the big stories, like Watergate. That is pure nonsense. Miller did not expose any government malfeasance, she helped Scooter Libby and Karl Rove spin their WMD propaganda to the public through one of the country’s (previously) most respected newspapers.

The plain fact of the matter is that The Times and Miller have been as disingenuous as humanly possible on the obvious distinction between the diametrically opposed types of “sources” and “leaks”. They know full well that Karl Rove is no “Deep Throat”, and that Scooter Libby is not going to give them the real scoop. But if Miller wanted to remain the only piglet suckling at Karl Rove’s information teat, she needed to dutifully report the leaks as fact. Such is the sorry state of modern journalism, and its insidious connections to the very people that they are supposed to scrutinize.

The NY Times should be ashamed.

                                             Dr. John

September 29th

Justice Delay'd

It’s been years since Tom Delay took corporate money, funneled it through the GOP in Washington, who sent the laundered money back to Delay to help fund Texas Republicans in order to take control of the Texas legislature.  Once in control, they gerrymandered Texas politics by redrawing Texas districts for a second time since the 2000 census to help get more Republicans elected to office. It all worked according to plan, and Delay assumed that he would never get caught for laundering the corporate money.

Reprising Richard Nixon’s role as Crook in Chief, Delay declared defiantly, “I have done nothing wrong”.  A brilliant defense, buttressed by his statement that his was “one of the weakest indictments in US history”. Based on the veracity level of past Republican defenses we can assume that his statements actually translate to “I’ve been a baaaad boy”, and “damn, that indictment looks pretty air tight”.

Wouldn’t it be just super if our leaders were actually honest public servants, working for the good of the people (not just their party)? I can’t wait for the next election; it’s House cleaning time!

                                            Dr. John

September 28th

High Def Burners Delayed

Toshiba has announced that it is behind schedule on delivering the new blue laser high capacity DVD burners known as HD-DVD drives until early 2006. The new drives were supposed to make it to store shelves before the holiday season this year, but now that is not going to happen. This means that HD-DVD and Blu-Ray-DVD drives may appear within months of each other, increasing any indecision among consumers as to which standard will be the most popular. Chances are, the HD-DVD format will become the more popular because it will be supported by major operators such as Intel and Microsoft. Blu-Ray drives will be able to hold more data, but the drives and disks can't be produced on current factory assembly lines. This will probably limit the market penetration for Blu-Ray disks drives, unless consumers opt for the larger disk size.

While choice is good, the upcoming battle between the formats is certain to cause end users untold problems and difficulties as the HD format wars play out.

                                           Dr. John

September 27th

Sinister Silence

What is the NY Times hiding? The Editorial pages have not been graced with a single introspective look at the connection between the jailing of Times reporter Judith Miller for contempt of court, and the White House-generated leak of the identity of CIA agent Valerie Wilson. They have repeatedly voiced strong words demanding the release of Miller, their senior reporter on the huge stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq, but have never delved into the unseemly connection between the White House “leak machine” and Miller’s wildly incorrect reporting on WMD in the pages of the Times. 

You have to wonder if the silence has more to do with pending legalities, rather than a lack of journalistic ethics. But the silence is stark in its totality, and is sinister in the implications for a press that has such close ties to the administration they are supposed to be critically covering.  With Judith Miller’s reporting, we weren’t getting the pinnacle of Fourth Estate scrutiny, we were getting an administration bullhorn jammed in our ears.

Fourth Estate? Never heard of it.

                                       Dr. John

 September 26th

Heritage Foundation Undermines US Foundations

If you thought that the lack of government response to hurricane Katrina was a mistake, you would be mistaken. Indeed, it was part of a plan hatched at the Heritage Foundation to reduce the size and scope of the federal government, and to prevent experienced career civil servants from “going off message”, and attempting to formulate policies. The Heritage Foundation, a think-tank of rich Republicans, insisted that for George Bush to succeed as President, politicians, not experienced civil servants, should be placed in charge of all Federal Agencies. Think, for example, Michael Brown of FEMA.

Indeed, this is the very same concept behind Karl Rove and the Republicans choosing George W. Bush for the office of president, because he doesn’t know enough about how government operates, or how foreign policy works, to argue with the political operatives that formulate daily Republican talking points. It’s easier to keep an uniformed political hack in line and on message than it is to keep a highly intelligent person from spoiling the spin of the day. Bill Clinton was very good at going off message, and delving deep into the details of administration policy.

Now that their scurrilous plan has backfired on them, they have quickly cooked up a plan B, as all good political machines should. This one is to exploit the Katrina flood disaster to further dismantle worker protections, funnel more federal funds to Republican cronies, and advance their ultra-conservative political schemes. It was reported in the NY Times today that over 80% of the billions of tax dollars already allocated for Katrina recovery has been awarded with no-bid contracts to companies like Halliburton.

How even Republicans can stand this is beyond me.

                                       Dr. John

Deadly Dolphins Defect

Even the Navy's trained killer dolphins have defected from the war effort, and have gone missing. The Navy's "Cetacean Intelligence Mission" trains Atlantic bottlenose dolphins fitted with toxic dart guns to patrol around submarines and ships while in port, looking for terrorist divers to shoot at. Apparently, hurricane Katrina over-flooded their pens, and washed 36 trained, dart-toting dolphins into the ocean. So far the Navy does not know the whereabouts of the defecting dolphins, but rumors from participants in the peace march in DC on Saturday suggest that the dolphins were spotted in the Potomac river, joining the peace march around the White House.

                                           Dr. John

Pro-War Rally Big Success

On Sunday, to counter the insignificant peace march in DC that occurred on Saturday, almost 400 people showed up to proclaim their love of war. This show of support for Karl Rove's and Don Rumsfeld's masterful prosecution of the war in Iraq was so successful, that it was given as much space in the Washington Post as the previous day's poor showing by the anti-war protestors. It was estimated that the anti-war protest could only muster between 250 and 400 thousand marchers, proving that the war remains highly popular among the US electorate.

                                            Dr. John

Monkey Trial Version 2.0 Begins Today

As knowledge and enlightenment march steadily backward in the religion-soaked United States, today marks the beginning of the second trial in a century to attempt to remove the teaching of evolution from our schools. If all goes well for the Inquisitors, evolution will, like gravity, be reduced to a suspect theory only entertained by that lunatic fringe of society known as scientists.

                                            Dr. John

September 24th

Official: Microsoft Doesn't Innovate Anything

A long article in the Wall Street Journal (the mouthpiece of American Corporatocracy) describes in detail the dysfunctional, bloatware coding culture at Microsoft, and how Windows has always been cobbled together like a Rube Goldberg contraption. The article goes on to talk about how Jim Allchin kept urging Mr. Bill to fix the way Windows was made. It was taking them too long to reverse course on the coding of Windows Longhorn (Vista), and years of coding had already been wasted. Microsoft was going to have to start over from scratch. The funniest part is how they gloss over the fact that the "about face" that Mr. Bill was forced to swallow was really a retreat, and a defeat:

 "On Aug. 27, 2004, Microsoft said it would ship Longhorn in the second half of 2006 -- at least a year late -- and that Mr. Gates's WinFS advance wouldn't be part of the system. The day before in Microsoft's auditorium, Mr. Allchin had announced to hundreds of Windows engineers that they would "reset" Longhorn using a clean base of code that had been developed for a version of Windows on corporate server computers."

There you have it, the massive innovative design decision was to use the existing code base for Windows 2003 Server, which was written between 2000 and 2002. So by the time that Vista comes to market, it will be based on code that is over 5 years old. Innovation, perhaps, is in the eye of the coder.

                                        Dr. John

September 23rd

Idiots or Crooks?

President Bush and the Republicans promised to clean up the corruption in Washington when they got elected, but what they really meant was they were going to ensure that only Republican corruption would be tolerated.

The number of scandals swirling around the White House and the Republicans in Congress may be at unprecedented levels, but the number of actual ongoing investigations is tiny, because the Republicans control the means by which investigations are mounted.

How have the corrupt Republicans injured We The People? Let me count the ways.

1) Tom Delay, Republican House Majority Leader: Abramoff-Gate.

2) Bill Frist, Republican Senate Majority Leader: Insider Trading-Gate.

3) Karl Rove, Republican aid to George Bush: Plame-Gate.

4) Donald Rumsfeld, Republican secretary of defense: Abu Ghraib-Gate

5) George Bush and Iraq WMD-Gate.

And this is just the multipronged tip of the iceberg. I'm leaving out dozens of other scandalous actions like the purposeful dismantling of FEMA, and scandalous lack of actions like the Bush administration's non-response to the flooding disaster in New Orleans.

With so many scandals occurring in such a short space of time and involving so many prominent Republicans you have to wonder if the Republicans are idiots, or just crooks? I think by now it's clear the later is the case.

If you live in the Washington area like I do, please attend tomorrow's peace march in the capital to let the scandal-ridden Republican Party know that we are fed up with their malfeasance in office, and that we aren't going to forget all of their scandals once they are no longer in control of both houses of Congress and the White House.

                                        Dr. John

September 21st

Bill Gates Finally Listens to Me

After chiding Bill the other day for micromanaging Microsoft, and for the unwieldy nature of the massive bureaucracy his mega-company has become, the head honcho of Microsoft conceded that I was right, and so he decided to break the company into 3 new divisions. Keep in mind that this is not April 1st.

The 3 divisions will be: 1) Platform products and services (Operating systems, etc.) 2) Business products and services (Office applications, etc), and 3) Entertainment and devices (games and hardware). It seems somewhat ironic that Microsoft fought this exact type of subdivision tooth-and-nail when the Justice Department was charging them with antitrust activities. Now, based on widespread criticism, Bill finally realized that it was a good idea to streamline the various different parts of Microsoft, and put them into their own divisions.

Now if Bill would just remove himself from the company, and start a distinguished career as a mega-philanthropist, everything would be just peachy.

                                        Dr. John

September 16th

Bush's Tunnel Vision

One thing you can say about George Bush; he's not a complicated man. Indeed, he always seems single-minded, even when tending the store requires serious multitasking. Before the terrorist attacks in 2001, he and his administration were still concentrating on communism and other perceived threats that had long ago faded into obscurity for most of us. Then after 9/11, the administration turned all attention to terrorism, and even launched an unrelated war in Iraq in the name of fighting terrorism, while at the same dismantling important parts of the federal system, such as FEMA.

Now that hurricane Katrina has proven that myopic administration style to be inadequate to the job of President of the United States, will the Bush administration learn how to juggle competing priorities like normal, competent administrations have always done? Don't count on it. Expect all attention to turn to responding to Katrina and other possible disasters, while ignoring the deteriorating situation in Iraq, letting the Taliban regroup in Afghanistan, spending tax dollars like a drunken sailor without regard to the debt, continuing to dismantle federal agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, and ignoring problems with agencies such as Medicare.

Tunnel vision is great for subway security cameras, but not for Presidents of the United States.

                                        Dr. John

Bill Gates is a Lousy Boss

We all know that Bill Gates is a greedy guy, and loves to bully other people and companies, and you might expect that would mean that he is not a particularly good boss to work for. Indeed, that appears to be the case, as internal grumblings from current and former employees filter out of the Redmond gulag. Some of the most telling commentary on Bill's bad boy bossiness come from Kai-Fu Lee, the Chinese computer scientist recently hired away from Microsoft by Google. Microsoft sued to prevent Lee from defecting to Google, but lost the initial court battle. Lee was quoted in the court hearings as saying that Microsoft was a dysfunctional company, and called them "incompetent". In contrast, Lee's comments on Google were opposite:  "the culture is very supportive, collaborative, innovative, and Internet-like -- and that's bottoms-up innovation rather than top-down direction."

We all knew that Bill ran Microsoft with an iron hand from the top down. That's the main reason that Windows is a kludge of dozens of unrelated modules that don't always work together properly. It's also why Bill can only talk about "innovation", when history shows that he steals or buys almost all of the stuff in his wares. Bill is a bully, not an innovator, and the waves of defections by highly talented, disgruntled employees speaks volumes of the incompetence and poor leadership. Bill knows how to make money, but he is not the kind of employer that engenders loyalty, or employee satisfaction.

Other recent defections include Steven Walli, who was supposed to counter the Linux threat, but instead migrated to an open-source consulting firm. Engineers Joe Beda and Gary Burd left Microsoft for Google, where they helped create Google-Talk, the VoIP/instant messenger that Google just released. Overall, defecting employees say that Microsoft's past successes and enormous size have made them sluggish, apathetic, and lazy.

To give you an idea of how non-innovative Bill and Co. have become, just think of Vista. It was supposed to be a totally new operating system, but almost a year ago, Microsoft announced that the kernel of Windows Vista was the same code that formed the base of Windows Server 2003. Now that's a real innovative breakthrough, if I ever heard of one.

The day that Bill Gates turns over all Microsoft operations to a competent and respectable corporate leader will be the day that Windows starts down the long road to recovery.

                                        Dr. John

September 14th

Open the "Flood-Gate" Investigation

Taking a page from Karl Rove's black-hearted playbook, I will create a sound bite that everyone can identify with the Bush Administration's criminal negligence in handling the New Orleans levees and the resulting flood when the levees failed. I will call the debacle "Flood-Gate". The reasons that the Republicans always give every supposed Democratic scandal a name is to simplify the criticism into a single sound bite that everyone can identify with. So Flood-Gate it is, and what I want is to get to the bottom of how the federal government failed so completely to prepare or respond to the disaster, which developed far more slowly than any terrorist attack would have. FEMA and the Bush Administration had days to prepare, and days to respond after the fact, but instead, Bush and his friends remained on vacation. That's disaster preparedness at it's absolute worst.

Bush admitted in a rather pitiful way yesterday that the Federal Government failed to respond properly to the flooding, and he actually said he accepted the blame. His stuttering, rambling performance in the news conference was as poor as any I've ever seen from a sitting president. But the major point remains that Bush is feeling the heat of his abysmally low poll ratings, and the deteriorating situation in Iraq, which is sure to drag his presidency into the ranks of the failed administrations of the past, including that of Richard Nixon.

What Bush didn't admit yet is that his policies in the US and overseas have all been failures, from his clumsy attempt to reform Social Security to his failures to finish the war in Afghanistan and catch Osama Bin Laden. But even the Iraq quagmire will not be as damaging to Bush and Co. as Flood-Gate: his dismantling of FEMA at a time when he said he was protecting America from danger. He was talking up a good game, while at the same time he was degrading the ability of FEMA to respond to disasters caused by nature, or by terrorists. It is time for a full Congressional hearing into the dismantling of FEMA, and the failure to fund levee improvements in New Orleans. Open the Flood-Gate investigation, and hopefully that will open the news media flood gates on the rest of Mr. Bush's failures.

After the 2004 election, Mr. Bush arrogantly said; "I've earned political capital, and I'm going to spend it". He overspent it all on a reckless political spending spree, and now the country is stuck with the sad results of his political credit card debt. Don't blame me for putting this bumbling amateur back in the White House, I proudly voted for Kerry, someone with actual experience in combat, and governance.

                                         Dr. John

September 12th

Scandals Aren't Us

Can you imaging if Bill Clinton had lied about going to war in Bosnia, and then thousands of soldiers were killed and wounded? Scandal material? Sure thing, so what’s up with the scandal-less or scandal-lite treatment of the Bush administration by the so-called liberal media? Every usual suspect in that liberal media cabal, ranging from the NY Times, to the Washington Post to CNN, have been more than supportive of the Bush administration, including being very helpful in the run up to the war in Iraq. So I thought it would be interesting for both liberals and conservatives alike to do a scandal by scandal comparison of the Bush and Clinton administrations, and the degree to which the media treated the stories as scandals, or not.

Which was worse for the country, “White Water” under Clinton, or failing to connect terrorist dots before 9/11 under Bush? One was a failed Arkansas land deal for $30,000 by a Clinton friend and business partner that occurred 10 years before Mr. Clinton became President. The other scandal concerned an incumbent President ignoring mounting intelligence information that Osama Bin Laden was preparing terrorist cells to attack the US, possibly with hijacked planes. White Water got much more air time and column space during the Clinton presidency than the failure to protect the US from terrorists did under Bush...


September 9th

Homeland Security, We've Heard of It.

When you want to really beef up a federal organization's ability to get a tough job done quickly, and correctly, what do you do? If you're President Bush, you fire all the experienced career crisis management personnel at FEMA, and appoint political buddies in an orgy of political nepotism.

"Job opening: FEMA director, qualifications: Republican - will get on the job training".

The Washington Post has a great article (for a change) on how the experienced career crisis managers at FEMA have been replaced by Bush  with inexperienced Republican politicians. In fact, it turns out that Michael Brown, new head of FEMA, lied on his resume' for the job saying he had a job in "overseeing emergency management in Edmond OK" 30 years ago. That would make the now 50 year old Brown 20 years old when he got the job in Oklahoma, an age when most of us are either in a job, or in college. Sure enough, it turns out that Brown was only an "intern" at the agency for several years, and had no management responsibilities. Many other items on his resume' are just as questionable.

Overall, 3 out of 5 FEMA directors now have no experience in disaster management, and a full 9 out of 10 regional managers lack experience. So Bush and friends took a premier Federal agency headed by James Lee Witt, and filled the positions with political buddies without experience. This is the man who says he is going to protect us from terrorist disasters?

As New Orleans was flooding on Monday, FEMA did nothing. By Tuesday the flooding was very extensive, and life threatening. Michael Chertoff, Mr. Browns boss under the Homeland Security Department, was interviewed on TV where he repeatedly said that all the headlines on Tuesday said "New Orleans dodges bullet".  No national paper had any such headline on Monday, Tuesday, or any other day. Either the people in charge are idiots, or they are pathological liars. In either case, we are screwed when it comes to "homeland security".

So ask yourself, is Mr. Bush making you safer? Is he a competent leader you can trust? Does he "surround himself with the best and brightest?" Or does he care more about politics than about good governance?

The answers are now self evident.

                                         Dr. John

September 8th

Divide and Deceive 

The Bush Administration put Karl Rove in charge of "emergency management". Not management of the emergency in New Orleans, the emergency of spin control in the White House. Sidney Blumenthal has a piece today that is a must read for all. I dare Republicans to read the whole thing, and point out any errors. I mean real errors, not points that simply contradict Rush Limbaugh's lie machine. As an example, the Republicans have been lying about when Louisiana governor Blanco declared a state of emergency. Republicans keep saying she did it long after the storm. Well, Republicans only need go to this link at the White House to see that the state of emergency was declared long before the storm even hit.

Here are some very pertinent quotes from Mr. Blumenthal's article.

"Even as the floodwaters poured into New Orleans, unimpeded by any federal effort to stanch the flow, the White House mustered a tightly coordinated rapid response of political damage control. Karl Rove assumed emergency management powers. The strategy was to dampen any criticism of the president, rally the Republican base, and cast blame on the mayor of New Orleans and governor of Louisiana, both Democrats. It was a classic Bush ploy against the backdrop of crisis. The object was to polarize the nation along partisan lines as swiftly as possible. While policy collapsed, politics reigned. Once again, Bush the divider, not the uniter, emerged.

President George H.W. Bush's loss of Florida in the 1992 election is partly attributable to FEMA's mishandling of Hurricane Andrew. President Clinton appointed James Lee Witt as the new director, the first one ever to have had experience in the field. Witt reinvented the agency, setting high professional standards and efficiently dealing with disasters.

FEMA's success as a showcase federal agency made it an inviting target for the incoming Bush team. Allbaugh, Bush's former campaign manager, became the new director, and he immediately began to dismantle the professional staff, privatize many functions and degrade its operations. In his testimony before the Senate, Allbaugh attacked the agency he headed as an example of unresponsive bureaucracy: "Many are concerned that Federal disaster assistance may have evolved into both an oversized entitlement program and a disincentive to effective State and local risk management. Expectations of when the Federal Government should be involved and the degree of involvement may have ballooned beyond what is an appropriate level. We must restore the predominant role of State and local response to most disasters."

There you have it, now national disaster relief is a "local responsibility", and has become an "oversized entitlement program". And I thought that the people served by FEMA were taxpaying US citizens. Silly me. United States? Where is the 'united' part as far at the Republicans are concerned?

When Karl Rove, the traitorous CIA leaker, went into crisis management mode, he fell back on his standard (one trick pony) modus operandi: divide the electorate by means of deception. As long as Republicans are willing to be pawns in Rove's game, this country will remain as divided as it was before the civil war.

                                          Dr. John

September 7th

Appearances Are Nothing

The Bush administration continues to put more effort into damage control and managing appearances than on properly managing disaster relief along the Gulf Coast.  This is not just the fault of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and its ineffective boss, Michael Brown, but a direct result of policies and decisions made by President Bush and his staff. Be assured that Republicans will try to blame local Democrats, and failing that, will try to blame lower level crisis managers, but the real culprits in this debacle reside entirely within the White House.

Not only did Bush and colleagues reduce funding for levee improvements in New Orleans starting as long ago as 2001, but they made a decision that natural disaster recovery would be better managed at the state and local level. That is why FEMA responded so slowly to the Katrina disaster, because the agency was now part of Homeland Security, whose main purpose according to Bush is to respond to terrorism.

According to Trina Sheets, the executive director of the National Emergency Management Association, which represents local emergency personnel; "since the Department of Homeland Security was established there has been a steady degradation of the capabilities [at FEMA]." State and local officials complained earlier this year when the Department of Homeland Security proposed an agency reorganization that would officially absolve FEMA of its disaster-preparedness functions and instead hand disaster relief to a new, as yet non-existent agency.

Because of their failure to connect the dots concerning the terrorist attacks before 9/11, the Bush administration became obsessed with anti-terrorist activities, to the exclusion of natural disaster preparedness. So you can see how hollow the idea of a homeland security department has become when it focuses myopically on rare terrorist events, and ignores much more common and deadly natural disasters.

Michael Brown and Michael Chertoff were both intimately involved in the shift of priorities at FEMA and Homeland Security, and did so at the behest of President Bush and Vice President Cheney. The Bush administration is in damage control mode now, because for them appearances are everything, when in reality, appearances amount to nothing at all when it comes to disaster relief.

                                          Dr. John

September 6th

Blame Game Only Good for Democratic Presidents

Any Republicans who think that Bill Clinton would not have been raked over the coals and impeached again if he were in charge during the abysmally poor response to the Katrina disaster is living in a fantasy world. Instead, Bill Clinton, like the statesman and gentleman that he is, stood up with George Bush Sr. to support George Bush Jr. and ask for donations for the victims. At the same time, rather than being honest and responsible, Republicans duplicitously demanded that no one start "finger pointing", while at the same time blaming local Democratic officials for the slow response.

Being both hypocrites and incompetent at the same time, the Republicans nonetheless are in charge of the country now, so don't expect any heads to roll, or any investigation to find out what happened. Don't expect any meaningful hearings from Republicans as to why FEMA was so ineffective in this time of "Republican Homeland Security". Don't expect to hear much about how in 2001, the funds for levee improvements were drastically cut after George Jr. got into office. Expect to see lots more disingenuous appearances by the president hugging people, and expect to hear more refrains from Republicans not to start the "blame game", while at the same time pointing their fingers at local Democrats as those who should have been in charge of the US response.

                                          Dr. John

September 3rd

Did Mad Cow Disease Originally Come from Humans?

People who are eating should not read this. Wait until you're finished with your meal, please.

A new report has come out that seems to have pinpointed the origins of both mad cow disease and "variant CJD", the new human form of the deadly brain disease known as Kuru. In the 1960s and 70s, British cattle raisers were experimenting with high protein feed as a way of boosting milk production. Apparently, one of the sources of that protein was... have you finished your meal?

Human bodies.

What?? How the hell could human bodies get into cattle feed? The author of the report notes that tens of thousands of human corpses are floated down rivers in India and Pakistan every year, and that unscrupulous "meat byproduct" vendors would gather the remains downstream from the funeral sites, and mix them with the animal body parts destined for cattle food. He estimates that over 100 corpses infected with Kuru made it into the cattle food supply every year for over a decade. Then, after thousands of cattle developed mad cow disease in Britain, a modified form of Kuru, "variant CJD", began to break out among beef eaters throughout the country. Eventually, most cattle had to be slaughtered and buried, and the British cattle industry had to start over from scratch.

As they say, you are what you eat.

                                          Dr. John

Intel Says AMD and Mike Magee are Liars

Intel says that AMD, the entire IT industry, and even The Inquirer's Mike Magee are all daft when it comes to claims that Intel bullied customers into avoiding AMD chips. Mr. Magee, for one, has thrown down the gauntlet and challenged Intel to call him a liar in court. This I can't wait for. Intel really did not counter AMD's claims in their court filings, but instead claimed that they invented the microprocessor, and are true innovators. Innovation seems to be a particularly popular court defense among large IT companies like Microsoft and Intel, even if innovation is something neither of them have heard of.

                                          Dr. John

Direct X 10 Not Backward Compatible!

As you might expect from the company that brought you the blue screen of death, Microsoft has announced that Direct X 10 will not be backward compatible with DX 9 and earlier games! Uh, let me think... I guess that means all games on earth right now! But they will of course offer software emulation! Gee Bill, thanks very much for that. We can't wait for all our favorite games to run much slower on all that expensive hardware we've bought. Good deal!

FEMA Failed as Part of "Homeland Security"

When president Bush subsumed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) into the "Homeland Security Department", he took a functional and highly important Federal agency and put a disorganized, mission-less mega-agency in charge of emergency management in the US. As a result, FEMA failed completely to respond in an effective and timely manner to hurricane Katrina and the flooding caused by levee failures. A serious disaster has been turned into a massive human tragedy, temporarily turning the New Orleans area into a third world country without any infrastructure.

As help finally begins to trickle in to the area 5 days after the disaster, and as the Bush Administration says it's not time for finger pointing, we can only hope that the finger pointing increases to a blistering intensity. Clearly, FEMA and Homeland Security failed completely to respond to a normal, natural disaster. How much poorer would their response have been if terrorists had blown up a nuclear power plant, or set off a small nuclear weapon in a US city?

FEMA is the agency that needs to respond quickly (and even pre-emptively) to natural disasters in the US, which happen every few years. They can't be saddled with a large overlying bureaucracy that prevents rapid response. By focusing so myopically on terrorism, Bush has failed to protect US citizens from the much more common, and more predictable natural disaster.

The poor people who have been displaced from New Orleans will probably never be able to return. Local developers will use eminent domain and other mechanisms to claim the land at pennies on the dollar, and expensive housing and resorts will replace what had been this historic city. The poor will have to migrate away, and try and find lives elsewhere.

                                          Dr. John

September 2nd

Bush Lied While Thousands Died

Anyone who thought that the Bush Administration was ready for another big terrorist attack was given a rude wake up call this week, as it became apparent that our government couldn't even respond to a disaster when given 5 days notice beforehand. People are starving and living in filth five days after the disaster, and 10 days after it became clear that something like this was likely to happen.

What did President Bush say about it yesterday? First he said, just as he did right after 9/11, that "no one could have known".  That disingenuous refrain has grown very, very tiresome. We are also seeing that rolling FEMA and other emergency response agencies into the new and disorganized "Homeland Security Dept." was probably a bad idea. FEMA is still nowhere to be seen in New Orleans. Mr. Bush also told the starving people of New Orleans to "take personal responsibility" for their situations. That should go over well with people living in a trash pile surrounded by flood waters, dead bodies, gangs of armed looters, and no food or water anywhere.

Bush started his response to the disaster on Tuesday by continuing his vacation, and Dick Cheney is still on vacation now. Condoleeza Rice went to see "Spamalot", and then went shopping for shoes. One woman at the store screamed at her for buying shoes when the disaster was unfolding, and so Ms. Rice had her security agents physically remove the woman from the store, so she could get back to shoe shopping. You'd think she might instead be trying to get shoes to he homeless, foodless, waterless, shoeless people of New Orleans, wouldn't you? No, not this administration. They are too busy denying any culpability, and saying "no one could have known".

                                          Dr. John

September 1st

Bush Blindsided Again, Despite Warnings Again

As the horrific tragedy unfolds in New Orleans, questions are being asked about how the levees around lake Pontchartrain were not improved over the last several years, despite warnings from local officials. The local Times Picayune newspaper had run a series of articles in 2004 on the cuts in Federal funding for the Army Corps of Engineers to shore up the levees around the lake, and warned that the cuts would lead to a disaster if a large hurricane hit the area before improvements could be made. But because of funding demands for the war in Iraq, funds in 2004 were cut by 80%, and a hiring freeze on workers was put in place. The work was never completed.

Furthermore, environmentalists (evil bastards in Bushspeak) warned in a carefully drafted report that the destruction of wetlands in the New Orleans area to allow increased development would make flooding more likely in the event of a hurricane. The Bush administration called the report "highly questionable", and said that "everybody loves what we are doing".  Until now, that is.

Bush was warned by President Clinton that terrorism would be his biggest worry, and then the August daily brief warned Bush that "Bin Laden was determined to attack inside US". Bush did nothing to stop the terrorists, despite information on Atta from the FBI. Bush was then warned that plans were required for the aftermath of the war in Iraq, but he ignored those warnings and we are now in a quagmire with no good end in sight. Bush was warned that draining funds from the New Orleans levee reconstruction for the war in Iraq was a mistake, but he ignored those warnings too. Not to mention the fact that the National Guard is in Iraq, not here to help with natural and un-natural disasters.

Bush's tin ear for politics and good governance has created or exacerbated some of the worst disasters in recent US history. The question for me is, how much more damage can he do over the next 2 1/2 years? Impeachment never sounded so good.

                                           Dr. John

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