Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Nightowl Newswrap

"We can't kill our way to victory" The U.S. is "running out of time" to win the war in Afghanistan, and sending in more troops will not guarantee victory, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Michael Mullen, warned the House Armed Services Committee yesterday. At that same hearing, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told the committee that the war in Iraq is entering the "endgame" but said the situation there remains fragile and that decisions in the coming months "will be critical to regional stability and our national security interests in the years to come."

You have to wonder about the warmth of that reception One short week after community organizers were mocked, derided and ridiculed at the Republican National Convention, John McCain appeared at the ServiceNation Presidential Candidates Forum at Columbia University in New York.

Does it mean anything? Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has agreed to share power with the opposition after more than two decades as the country's unchallenged leader, South Africa's president said. Thabo Mbeki, the mediator who worked out the deal, did not immediately offer details Thursday, but said the agreement would be signed and made public Monday. "I am absolutely certain that the leadership of Zimbabwe is committed to implementing these agreements," Mbeki said at a late-night news conference.

If the civilians can find this, can the military find this as well? North Korea has quietly built a long-range missile base that is larger and more capable than an older and well-known launch pad for intercontinental ballistic missiles, according to independent analysts relying on new satellite images of the site and other data. Analysts provided images of the previously secret site to The Associated Press. Construction on the site on North Korea's west coast began at least eight years ago, according to Joseph S. Bermudez, Jr., senior analyst with Jane's Information Group, and Tim Brown with, a private satellite imagery analysis company. Bermudez first located the site in early spring and they have tracked its construction using commercial and unclassified satellite imagery.

Of course, if there were strong unions, workplace safety, OSHA standards, and serious fines...Less than two months into the job in the oilfields of West Texas, Brandon Garrett was sliced in half by a motorized spool of steel cable as he and other roughnecks struggled to get a drilling rig up and running. Garrett's grisly end illustrates yet another soaring cost of America's unquenchable thirst for energy: Deaths among those working the nation's oil and gas fields have risen at an alarming rate, The Associated Press has found. At least 598 workers died on the job between 2002 and 2007, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. During that period, the number of deaths per year rose by around 70 percent, from 72 victims in 2002 to 125 in 2006 and a preliminary count of 120 in 2007. The number of people laboring in the nation's oil and gas fields has been soaring as part of a drilling boom that began in 2000-01, but that alone does not appear to explain the rising death toll, since the fatality rate - that is, the number killed relative to the number of workers - also climbed during the first half of the decade.

Another reason to bail on Vista? Not everyone is rocking to the new iTunes 8 released Tuesday. An informal poll on ZDNet suggests that a problem with the latest edition of the Apple media player is affecting some, but not all, users of the software on Microsoft's Windows Vista. Users on an Apple forum reported seeing the so-called blue screen of death (BSOD) on their desktops running Windows Vista with iTunes 8 installed. The BSOD problem occurs shortly after connecting their iPods and iPhones. A second, more subtle effect is that their CD/DVD drives "disappear." ZDNet's Ed Bott offers a look at the upgrades or changes in iTunes 8. Removing other USB devices, such as Webcams and printers, appears to resolve the problem, for the moment. Users on the forum speculate that there is an incompatibility between Apple and USB products from LogicTech and HP, as well as disc-burning software from Roxio.

Ignorance is the only thing these people worship--as soon as people realize they know nothing, they are exposed as the frauds they have always been: Robert Kagan says it’s elitist to expect a President of the United States to be knowledgeable about national security issues: Robert Kagan, a foreign policy advisor to McCain, derided criticisms of Palin as elitist. “I don’t take this elite foreign policy view that only this anointed class knows everything about the world,” he said. “I’m not generally impressed that they are better judges of American foreign policy experience than those who have Palin’s experience.” Being stupid as shit--and not even knowing what the Bush Doctrine is--that's what we need? If this was 1976, she wouldn't even be allowed in the building.

The city of Washington D.C. tackles the homeless issue: The District has leased 800 apartments to house men being booted out of the Franklin School homeless shelter downtown. City officials set up a long table inside the Shelter at 13th and K streets NW Thursday, allowing scores of the shelter's homeless residents to sign leases subsidized by the District. "I was very surprised," said Victor Honey, one of the men who signed a lease and picked up his key Thursday. "I'm glad they're taking people off the streets." If they need 800 apartments after closing just one shelter, think of how bad the problem must be.

Talk about putting lipstick on a pig--The White House hailed Japan's decision to halt its air mission for Iraq as a sign of progress, amid US forecasts that the "coalition of the willing" behind the 2003 invasion can now safely melt away. "Japan is our close friend and strong ally and we appreciate the willingness of the Japanese people to contribute to Iraqi stabilization and reconstruction," spokesman Gordon Johndroe said in a statement. "Japan's Self Defense Forces have made important contributions to coalition efforts and Japan's sacrifices will not be forgotten," he said, stressing that Tokyo's shift was possible "as a result of the progress made in Iraq." Tokyo announced earlier that it planned to wrap up the mission -- a military deployment which was historic for the pacifist nation but deeply unpopular among the public -- by the end of the year, citing improvements in Iraq. I don't know about you, but the Japanese government and economy has all but collapsed--think they're looking to calm down the home front?

What's in the drinking water? Testing prompted by an Associated Press story that revealed trace amounts of pharmaceuticals in drinking water supplies has shown that more Americans are affected by the problem than previously thought - at least 46 million. That's up from 41 million people reported by the AP in March as part of an investigation into the presence of pharmaceuticals in the nation's waterways. The AP stories prompted federal and local legislative hearings, brought about calls for mandatory testing and disclosure, and led officials in at least 27 additional metropolitan areas to analyze their drinking water. Positive tests were reported in 17 cases, including Reno, Nev., Savannah, Ga., Colorado Springs, Colo., and Huntsville, Ala. Results are pending in three others. The test results, added to data from communities and water utilities that bowed to pressure to disclose earlier test results, produce the new total of Americans known to be exposed to drug-contaminated drinking water supplies.

Meanwhile, in our own back yard Hey, someone has to pay attention to Latin America, and it sure isn't the M$M or the bu$h administration, so I guess we'll do it. A day after Bolivian President Evo Morales told the American ambassador to not let the door hit him in the ass on the way out, eight people died in clashes between pro-autonomy militants and government supporters in Providencia in the northeastern part of the country, near the border with Brazil. Similar clashes in Tarija in the southeastern part of the country near the Argentinian border left 88 wounded. Militants in Tarija, where most of the countries hydrocarbon energy comes from blew up a natural gas pipeline, resulting in $8 million in lost exports. Pro-autonomy groups also seized control of a pipeline valve in the nearby town of Yacuiba, also in the Tarija district.

Chavez expels American Ambassador The American ambassador to Venezuela has been given 72 hours to vacate the country, and recalled the Venezuelan ambassador to the United States. The move is in solidarity with Bolivia, coming shortly after the Bush administration expelled the Bolivian ambassador in retaliation for the expulsion of the U.S. ambassador.