2006 - %3, August

The impact of war on wildlife, pets and the environment

| Tue Aug. 15, 2006 7:42 PM EDT

An oil spill in Lebanon is being called a "major catastrophe" by the Lebanese government. The spill was created when Israeli jets hit storage tanks at the Jyiieh power station, and it now covers fifty miles of coast. It is estimated that the amount of oil that has entered the water is almost the amount that entered during the 1989 Exxon Valdez incident. Environment Minister Yacoub al-Sarraf said "We have never seen a spill like this in the history of Lebanon. It is a major catastrophe." The cost of the clean-up is estimated to be between $40 and $50 million.

The green sea turtle, which is endangered, nests on the coast of Lebanon. Some of the oil has settled on the sea floor, where tuna spawn.

There is also a problem with forest fires. According to Mounir Abou Ghanem, director general of the Association for Forest Development and Conservation in Beirut, there is no one to deal with the fires in Lebanon because the priority is relief and humanitarian work.

In the meantime, the animals in both Lebanon and Israel are suffering and dying. Rescue groups in Lebanon are doing their best to rescue stranded pets and feed any wandering animals. One shelter was hit by shrapnel and another was very close to a site that was bombed, so the rescuers are in danger, as well as the animals. Evacuees are seeing and running over dead animals on the roads as they flee.

In northern Israel, where people must abandon their homes, there are daily requests for shelter for pets. A rescue group, Let the Animals Live, is finding foster homes, feeding abandoned animals, and in a move reminiscent of Katrina, trying to get into houses to rescue abandoned pets. Rescuers in Israel are also tending to pets that have been injured by rockets.

And also reminiscent of Katrina, Americans and Canadians evacuated from Lebanon are not allowed to take their pets with them.

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Music Slowly Revives in New Orleans

| Tue Aug. 15, 2006 5:41 PM EDT

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The London Observer has a great audio slide show on music in New Orleans, post-Katrina. (To check it out, click on the photo, which shows the remains of a jukebox after the flood.) You get the basic gist from this paragraph in an accompanying article.

Following the storm it would be hard to say that music is in rude health, even in its rawest form, but look hard enough and the spirit of what everyone here calls 'the real New Orleans' is still intact. 'I defy you to spend a day in this city without hearing live music,' says Ben Jaffe, whose parents founded the French Quarter jazz venue Preservation Hall in 1961. He now plays bass with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. 'You can't walk down the street without hearing live music.' He's right. Even with 50 per cent of the population absent, much of the city a ghost town where even the 24-hour diners close at lunchtime because they've run out of food or staff and neighbourhoods are mouldering and decaying, music is everywhere, be it hip hop, bounce, brass bands or traditional jazz.

Sean Hannity...Bombs?

| Tue Aug. 15, 2006 1:36 PM EDT

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From ThinkProgress:

Yesterday on Fox News, Sean Hannity bashed Americans for Peace Now founder Mark Rosenblum for claiming that Hannity had suggested Israel should drop a nuclear bomb to destroy Hezbollah. "I never said drop a nuclear bomb," Hannity responded. A few moments later, Hannity slipped and said, "It could have. They could obliterate them." Hannity ended the segment by telling Rosenblum he was "full of sh*t."

10,000 Bags Missing in British Airports

| Tue Aug. 15, 2006 1:23 PM EDT

BBC reports that around 10,000 bags checked in by British Airways passengers have gone missing at airports since the UK security alert began. BA says half of them are still piled up at airports waiting to be delivered back to their owners.

So, everything's back to normal, then. That was fast.

Tucker Carlson On Dancing With the Stars

| Tue Aug. 15, 2006 10:49 AM EDT

Define "stars."

Can you do a grand jeté over a shark? Because I'd sure like to see Jerry Springer (who's also signed up for a turn on DWTS) try. (Though, in fairness, Springer is shelling out to defeat Ohio's Kenneth Blackwell, a cause for which we are perhaps willing to forgive all past and present assaults against taste.)

Sean Hannity Sucks...?

| Mon Aug. 14, 2006 7:49 PM EDT

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Good guerrilla marketing. But will it change hearts and minds? Who cares?

Oh, and the reaction:

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Military recruiter wrongdoing and military criminal violations on the rise

| Mon Aug. 14, 2006 6:44 PM EDT

The Government Accountability Office announced today that allegations of wrongdoing by military recruiters increased by 50% in the period from 2004 to 2005, and that criminal violations such as falsifying documents and sexual harrassment more than doubled during the same period. (An educated guess says that sexual assault complaints significantly increased, also.) The Department of Defense has no oversight system, so it is impossible to know the full extent of these violations.

"Determined to find ways to succeed in a challenging recruiting environment, some recruiters reportedly have resorted to overly aggressive tactics, such as coercion and harassment," the report said. Unlike the Marine Corps, the Army, Navy and Air Force measure recruiter performance by the number of recruits who enlist and report to basic training, as opposed to the number who complete basic training.

Who Wants to Invade Iran?

| Mon Aug. 14, 2006 6:01 PM EDT

From the latest broadcast of Mother Jones Radio:

  • Who wants to invade Iran? Joe Cirincione of the Center for American Progress says the neoconservatives want to, but he doesn't think they'll succeed: "I don't believe that the neocons for all their big bluster, for all their big lie techniques, are going to be able to do to us what they did in 2001 and 2003."

  • Suellen Miller says a simple, $150 device can save the lives of thousands of women around the world who are at risk from dying during childbirth. Miller explains the "life wrap," which looks like a wet suit, and tells us how it can save lives.
  • An ominous "dead zone" where aquatic life can't survive has appeared off the coast of Oregon again. Is global warming the cause? We talk to Jane Lubchenco, a marine biologist from Oregon State University.
  • Who's making good political music these days? Music and politics organization Music for America is distributing podcasts of the "Top 50 Progressive Songs" We talk to MFA director Molly Moon Neitzel and Geologic of the Blue Scholars, a hip-hop group on the organization's Top 50 list.
  • Listen to the show here.

    Unmarrieds and Singles, Your Time is Coming

    | Mon Aug. 14, 2006 4:15 PM EDT

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    By which I mean National Unmarried and Single Americans Week (Sept. 17-23) is coming! So plan something. Go out. Or stay home. The week is an opportunity to join together (temporarily!) to, as this website puts it, "C-E-L-E-B-R-A-T-E the lives and contributions of unmarried and single Americans!" In any event, here, via ResourceShelf, are some "fast facts" from the U.S. Census about this segment of the population (which comprises about 90 million people, or 41 percent of all U.S. residents age 18 and older).

    Single Life
    54
    Percentage of unmarried and single Americans who are women.

    60
    Percentage of unmarried and single Americans who have never been married. Another 25 percent are divorced and 15 percent are widowed.

    14.9 million
    Number of unmarried and single Americans age 65 and older. These older Americans comprise 14 percent of all unmarried and single people.

    86
    Number of unmarried men age 18 and older for every 100 unmarried women in the United States.

    55 million
    Number of households maintained by unmarried men or women. These households comprise 49 percent of households nationwide.

    29.9 million
    Number of people who live alone. These persons comprise 26 percent of all households, up from 17 percent in 1970

    Parenting
    32
    Percentage of births in 2004 to unmarried women.

    12.9 million
    Number of single parents living with their children in 2005. Of these, 10.4 million are single mothers.

    40
    Percentage of opposite-sex, unmarried-partner households that include children.

    672,000
    Number of unmarried grandparents who were caregivers for their grandchildren in 2004. They comprised nearly 3-in-10 grandparents who were responsible for their grandchildren. (Source: American FactFinder)

    Unmarried Couples
    4.9 million

    Number of unmarried-partner households in 2005. These households consist of a householder living with someone of the opposite sex who was identified as their unmarried partner.

    Dating
    904

    The number of dating service establishments nationwide as of 2002. These establishments, which include Internet dating services, employed nearly 4,300 people and pulled in $489 million in revenues.

    Voters
    36
    Percentage of voters in the 2004 presidential election who were unmarried.

    Education
    82

    Percentage of unmarried people age 25 or older in 2004 who were high-school graduates.

    23
    Percentage of unmarried people age 25 or older with a bachelor's degree or more education.

    Lamont's Victory Signals the End of Triangulation?

    | Mon Aug. 14, 2006 2:09 PM EDT

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    MoveOn's Eli Pariser is in a mood to exult.


    [Ned] Lamont's victory...marks the beginning of the end for an old favorite of Washington insiders: the tactics of triangulation. Originally employed as a survival strategy by a Democratic president in the wake of 1994's Republican revolution, the policy of seizing the political middle ground no longer makes sense in an era when any attempt at bipartisanship is understood as a sign of Democratic weakness and exploited accordingly.

    Had triangulation worked, we'd be in a different moment. But for six long years, it hasn't. Even Sen. Hillary Clinton has seen the writing on the wall in recent weeks, criticizing the Bush team's Iraq fiasco by publicly confronting Donald Rumsfeld, calling on him to resign and demanding that troop withdrawals from Iraq begin soon.

    With triangulation passing, a new era of bolder, principle-driven politics can begin. Lamont's success should be the opening salvo in a 90-day campaign to establish the clear-cut differences between Democrats and Republicans. Most independent voters, like Democrats, want change, but many of them aren't sure yet whether Democratic candidates are capable of giving it to them. Now's the chance to seize that mantle. ...

    If the Democratic Party can emulate Lamont's principled progressivism, a durable national electoral majority and a government that embraces real people's concerns awaits. Americans want change as badly as they did in 1994. They want an end to the U.S. military occupation of Iraq. They want a shift in national priorities that makes government their ally in dealing with soaring energy prices and increasingly inadequate and unaffordable health insurance. And, yes, they want their officeholders and candidates to hold the president accountable for his failures.

    Well, it's a bit of a leap from Lieberman's primary defeat to "a durable electoral majority and a government that embraces real people's concerns" (and the evidence for Hillary's conversion has to go beyond her kicking Rummy when he's already down, by which she risks nothing, and demanding troop withdrawals, which polls now show to be a mainstream position). But there's no doubt the nation wants change.