Sunday, February 24, 2008

At the End of the Day - February 24, 2008

I'm posting the end of the day early today, with the caveat that other administrators might update the post, and are encouraged to do so if something else comes up on our collective radar. But mostly I wanted to get the post up in time to remind you to Make sure to tune in to 60 Minutes tonight. They are airing the long awaited piece on the trial of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman. There will certainly be a quiz, and homework will likely be assigned...

This made my skin crawl...and not just because I hate snakes on a visceral level. This is a potential ecosystem nightmare. Because of climate change, large constrictor snakes have established self-sustaining colonies in the Florida everglades. Scientists predict that the creatures could migrate as far north as Missouri as climate changes makes the areas habitable. The snakes would be considered an invasive species that could undermine entire ecosystems. Ecosystems are delicate things and any unbalance can lead to devastating consequences. The largest snakes native to North America are puny in comparison, growing to a maximum length of about nine feet, and subsisting on a diet of mostly rodents. The large constrictors can grow as long 20 feet in length, have no natural predators on this continent, and eat deer, wild hogs, even alligators. Besides all that, nothing good has EVER come from an ecosystem collapse or the introduction of an invasive species. Adding an unchecked top predator to any ecosystem would most likely signal the advent of an unmitigated disaster.

Thugs. Islamist militants in Pakistan have warned incoming parliamentarians of increased brutality and violence if the new government persists with Musharref's anti-terrorist activities in the tribal areas. To underscore the threat, militants on Sunday attacked a security post, killing a policeman and two paramilitary service members and wounding six others.

The return of sectarian violence? Let's hope we aren't returning to the bad old days of 2005 and 2006, when every day we heard a horror story of entire wedding parties and funeral processions attacked and murdered for the unforgivable sin of being a follower of the wrong sect of Islam. Those dark days of sectarian murder and mayhem was where my mind went immediately when I heard the news of the suicide bomber that struck pilgrims on the way to a Shiite shrine in Karbala. Forty were killed and sixty were injured, and the approximately 12' x 65' tent where they had stopped to rest and eat was completely destroyed by the bomber, who turned himself into a human claymore with an explosives belt packed with ball bearings and metal shards.

Energy is easy to generate, but not so easy to store. Batteries haven't come that far, really, and carry their own environmental baggage. I have been called a wet blanket for bringing up the challenge of storage when renewables are the topic because it isn't sexy and the science is dull. This hasn't really shut me up, of course, since I am right. The reality is we have to solve the storage problem before we advance much beyond where we are right now. Fossil fuels store their energy in chemical bonds, and when those bonds are broken, most frequently by combustion, energy is released, no batteries required. That convenience factor is hard to overcome.

Germany continues to bear left. Local elections in Hamburg confirmed the shift to the left that has occurred all across Germany when the party that emerged from the old East German communists secured legislative representation in elections on Sunday. Even though it is a tiny part of the political landscape, Hamburg has taken on the mantle of a bellwether in the wake of state elections in January that signaled the leftward shift by Germans who are tired of belt tightening and economic restructuring.

Perennial political pedant Ralph Nader announced on "Press the Meat" this morning that he was launching yet another spoiler campaign. I'm sure he'll just garner tons of support, what with the way he saved us from the horrors of a Gore administration in 2000. Ralph...please...Go. The. Fuck. Away. Thank you.

Bush has gone past fearmongering and threatening inuendo to schoolyard taunts. Now he is flapping his wings and clucking that on the intelligence bill and telecom immunity, Democrats are siding with trial lawyers. To which I want to add an observation...the trial lawyers seem to be the only ones who are sticking up for American citizens and defending our civil liberties on Constitutional grounds in the judicial and political arenas, so...Good on 'em! (Damn. That's three times in a week that I've stuck up for lawyers...What's happening to me?)

Digby sure can cut through the crap and point out the forest other people can't see for all the damned trees. I am certainly glad she's on our side.

Jane at FireDogLake thinks McCain and Lieberman are two Wild and Crazy Guys out on the shag circuit like in one of those manly "buddy movies." My question (and I was kind of proud of it) is which one is Butch and which one is Scumdance?

And in Cuba, the National Assembly has sent the island reeling with the news that they have, in a stunning upset, settled on Fidel's kid brother Raul as the next president. [/snark]

And that's the weekend. What new developments will the coming week bring? I tingle at the prospects... And hey! One thing is for sure - no matter what blows our hair back in the week ahead, you can read about it, and a whole bunch of other stuff, too, right here!