Zebra 3 Report by Joe Anybody
Tuesday, 21 April 2009
tea part with the coppers
Now Playing: The police dont show in Portland - But NY city is another story
The Tea Party in Portland oregon ahd no police at it
I think the police in Portland only come out when its the left who is protesting. The Right was out in large numbers on April 15 in Pioneer Square;
Z3 Readers I wanted to share an account form a different perspective. The following article is from an economics blogger who I do like reading his insights on the economic system, but his right wing colors do come blazing out sometimes. In the article I will share below this rant, I wanted to note his observations on the "police contro;" and his insight on the "its the law" mentality many officers will take when they know they are enforcing bad rules:
Just so you Shooters know: I held the umbrella while Sam snapped the photos.
A Shooter sends us their account from my old hometown.
I attended the NYC Tea Party with my kids. I wanted them to experience political activism by protesting out of control government, mad deficit spending, bailout boondoggles that will encumber them for the rest of their lives, and the rapid descent into socialism granted in the bailout bill without public discussion or vote. The Congress voted for the bill without the benefit of reading it! An act for which they should be imprisoned!
The rally was scheduled to be held in City Hall Park across from City Hall. Police were everywhere in clusters of 5-6. Police cars, vans and command vehicles lined the streets. They had the park closed and barricaded. Police would not let anyone walk around to the south if they were carrying a sign. We tried to walk across the park, but were refused admission by police. I asked if this was not a public park.
And they admitted it was but refused entry. My teenage girls carried their signs folded and out of site. I tried to encourage them to hold them up with pride, but they told me they felt scared and intimidated by the police. We were routed up several blocks, then across and then down to get to the rally. The park remained empty and barricaded. Police had set up metal barriers along the street so that there was only a narrow lane between the street and the metal fence of the park. This resulted in a diffused body that was half spread out a quarter mile down Broadway, and half on the sidewalk on the other side of Broadway and across a closed side street. You could not move or get close to the speakers.
The energy of the crowd was good, but had fewer and not as good signs as the ones out west. There might have been 1000 people there. (Rough guess). I was appalled by the feeling of repression and complete disregard for free speech and public assembly rights essential to our Bill of Rights. I heard people complaining that they were not being permitted to walk where they wanted to. When we were ready to leave we gave our signs away, so that police wouldn’t block our route back to the car, but they wouldn’t let us walk a block south to our car. We were told we had to go north, across, and back down about 8 blocks out of our way.
The stoic, expressionless responses of the cops, saying, “it’s not my idea, just following orders,” is scary to experience because it makes me see that armed forces aren’t there to defend the constitution, they are there to execute the orders of the superiors as directed by whatever politician happens to hold the power. Didn’t they take an oath to defend the constitution as I did? Why is there no accountability for this? Then I remember that the president took that oath as well.
The way that this was handled does not reflect well on NYC. It is the same heavy-handed treatment that protesters received during the political convention, for which NYC is still handling the many civil actions.
The humorous piece for me when we left the party was when my kids said they were relieved because they had thought I was the only one who felt this way about the government handling of the economy!
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 12:01 AM PDT
Monday, 20 April 2009
Military Suicides - And Medicated Soliders - Can Someone Help?
Now Playing: UGLY OLD WAR - military suicides up to 18 per day - and the beat goes on
Casualties of war
Desperate veterans turn to suicide
VA blamed for failing to help Iraq, Afghan veterans
Marney Rich Keenan / The Detroit News
On June 11, 2006, at 8:30 p.m., Randen Harvey, a 24-year-old Marine Corps veteran, walked into the emergency room of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Ann Arbor in such a state of despair he warned he "might jump off the roof or put a hose in his car exhaust."
Four hours later, around 1 a.m., he was found on the roof of the nine-story building. Hospital security had to be called to bring him down.
Three days later, on June 15, the Marine who served two back-to-back combat tours in Iraq surrendered to his demons. He was found sprawled on the tile floor in the bathroom of his father's Farmington Hills home, dead from an overdose of street and prescription drugs.
Several branches of the military are reporting significant spikes in the number of suicides committed by both active-duty troops and veterans returning from duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Experts are calling the number of military-related suicides sweeping the country an "epidemic."
Survivors of veterans who committed suicide are starting to file lawsuits, accusing the VA of medical malpractice. The agency also has come under attack by lawmakers and veterans' groups charging that it failed to treat injured veterans for post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury, the signature wounds of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The agency also has been accused of manipulating suicide statistics to downplay the problem and systematically misdiagnosing returning combat soldiers who suffer mental illness because their resources are tapped.
"We are murdering our own children here," said the chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif., in an interview with The Detroit News.
"The tragedy is we could have predicted this, what with multiple deployments, the type of urban warfare and the almost inevitable killing of innocent people. Now we have an epidemic on our hands. This is a national disgrace."
Veterans groups say they are bracing for a flood of soldiers coming home from Iraq to a Veterans Affairs system that is ill-equipped to treat them and a country in the grips of a recession with few or no jobs to offer soldiers.
Harvey was honorably discharged less than seven months before he committed suicide. He came home only to find he couldn't sleep, couldn't hold a job, couldn't stand to be in public, couldn't stay sober and couldn't be around the family who loved him.
The night he was found on the roof of the hospital, he told a VA psychiatrist: "I am at the end of my rope. Things would be much easier if I weren't here." But because Harvey had failed a Breathalyzer test, he was discharged.The following morning Harvey returned to the hospital and was examined by Dr. Brian Martis, associate director of psychiatry at the Ann Arbor VA. Harvey told the psychiatrist he felt "hopeless" and "ashamed." Still, Harvey was not admitted to the hospital.
Instead, the veteran who had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, agoraphobia, panic anxiety disorder and alcohol abuse -- the same patient who had tried to commit suicide two months prior and who, only hours earlier, had been talked down from the hospital roof -- was, in Martis' words, "not certifiable" -- hospital code for not sick enough to be involuntarily committed.
In a lawsuit, Harvey's family claims that Veterans Affairs, the organization President Abraham Lincoln said was charged "to care for him who shall have borne the battle," failed to keep him from taking his own life.
His mother, Jackie Green of Brooklyn, filed the medical malpractice and wrongful death lawsuit against the Department of Veterans Affairs in U.S. District Court in Detroit.
Officials at the Ann Arbor Veteran Affairs facility where her son sought help, declined to comment for this story because the case is in litigation.
Green referred to her four sons from two marriages as The Brothers, as if they are one unit, one force with which to be reckoned: "You better run that by 'The Brothers,' " she'll say. Or: "The Brothers don't agree." Michael Sheppard is 35, David Sheppard, 33, Ryan Sheppard, 29 and Harvey, the youngest, would have been 27 on Feb. 1.
His relatives describe Harvey as the "glue," the "heart" of the family, with "the most infectious laugh you've ever heard."
The boys grew up on 80 acres in Comins in Oscoda County. Green, then a divorcee, moved from Ferndale to the country where her sons could have four-wheelers, dirt bikes and snowmobiles.
While the brothers have their own share of pain, Michael Sheppard seems the hardest hit. Last February, he was diagnosed with stage four cancer. Now, Sheppard finds himself thinking about what might have been.
When Harvey announced he was joining the Marines, Sheppard, a four-year Navy veteran who served in the Persian Gulf War, re-enlisted. He joined his little brother at basic training in San Diego. When Sheppard later suffered a ruptured hamstring, the planned tour of duty together was off. In January 2003, his brother shipped off to Kuwait alone.
Family sees difference
After Harvey was discharged in November 2005, Green says she could see the difference in his eyes. "He looked so haunted," she says.
That Christmas, surrounded by relatives, Harvey had to leave his mother's house. He said he felt claustrophobic. By spring he was sleeping outside on the porch with a handmade machete.
He tried working at Best Buy but had a panic attack in the middle of a shift and never went back. Then he tried working for a landscaping business. When a lawnmower engine backfired, he lost it. Humiliated, he said: "I'm afraid of a frigging lawn mower!"
In the span of six weeks, in early 2006, Harvey got two drunken driving tickets. His mother tried to intervene: "I pointed out to him the worst person in the world doesn't just all of a sudden start getting drunk driving convictions. You need help," Green recalled.
On March 31, 2006, when Harvey was first seen by the Ann Arbor VA's urgent care facility, he said he could sleep only four hours a night. He admitted that he'd been cutting himself on his arms, but denied that he was suicidal.
Harvey was given prescriptions for Xanax and Wellbutrin, both antidepressants.
Two weeks later, on April 16, 2006, he swallowed what was left of the prescriptions and ended up in the VA hospital in Detroit for the night. But he downplayed it to his family, saying it was "just a panic attack."
On May 3, 2006, about five weeks before he died, Harvey was evaluated in the post-traumatic stress disorder clinic in Ann Arbor.
A physician wrote in his chart: "Patient says his motor transport unit was assigned 'cleanup duty' of casualties. P. says he felt disgusted and horrified by the site of dead and mutilated bodies especially by those of dead women and children. 'We bagged them and threw them in the truck like it was garbage day.' At one point he says he vomited from those sights and smells."
Real tragedy of war
A day after her son died, Green said she received two phone calls. One was from an intake counselor at the VA Battle Creek Medical Center saying they had a bed available for his long-term residential care. "He was one day away from getting help," she says ruefully. "One damned day."
The other was from the physician in Ann Arbor who had decided hours after his patient climbed up on a roof that he would release him. Jackie says he called to apologize. He said he would not make the same decision again. She screamed at him: "Why didn't you lock my son up? He might be alive if you had."
In retrospect, the grieving mother says: "You know it's a terrible thing to say about your dead son. But he looked so at peace. He just looked like all the war had been drained out of him. And it strikes me as so sad, a tragedy really, that he had to die to be at peace."
email@example.com. (313) 222-2515
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 8:46 PM PDT
Racism wont be discussed in the UN (sssshh its all about Isreal)
Now Playing: Lack of concern, hot heads, protecting Israel, and wag at Iran = USA boycotts UN Racism Talks
Topic: FAILURE by the GOVERNMENT
So whats going on here Z3 Readers?
This is a smear / spin / boondoggle by the USA
We are playing shell games, finger pointing, protecting Israel, and trumpeting our great concern for Human Rights and Racism, all the while shit talking Iran and crying that we dont get our own way. How shameful to boycott a Racism Conference.
U.S. will boycott U.N. conference on racism
By Laura MacInnis and Sue Pleming
GENEVA/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States will boycott a United Nations conference on racism next week, the U.S. State Department said on Saturday, citing objectionable language in the meeting's draft declaration.
The United Nations organized the forum in Geneva to help heal the wounds from the last such meeting, in Durban, South Africa. The United States and Israel walked out of that 2001 conference when Arab states tried to define Zionism as racist.
The Obama administration, which kept its distance from preparations for the "Durban II" meeting, has come under strong pressure from Israel not to attend.
"With regret, the United States will not join the review conference," said State Department spokesman Robert Wood, ending weeks of deliberations inside the Obama administration over whether to attend.
Wood said significant improvements were made to the conference document, but the text still reaffirmed "in toto" a declaration that emerged from the Durban conference which the United States had opposed.
"The United States also has serious concerns with relatively new additions to the text regarding "incitement," that run counter to the U.S. commitment to unfettered free speech," he added.
The announced boycott came about three months after President Barack Obama became the first African-American to lead the United States.
Canada also has said it will not go next week because of fears of a repeat of the "Israel-bashing" that occurred at the last conference. The European Union is still deliberating.
The Czech Republic, which holds the rotating EU presidency, has called a meeting for Sunday evening to evaluate the bloc's stance on attending.
"There are still several member states of the EU that are not decided yet," Czech foreign ministry spokeswoman Zuzana Opletalova said. "We are in touch with them and there will be a decision on a common position before the conference starts."
Britain, however, confirmed that it would send a delegation to the conference, albeit without a high-level official.
RIGHTS GROUPS CONCERNED
Juliette de Rivero of Human Rights Watch said the meeting in Geneva would lack needed diplomatic gravitas without Washington's presence.
"For us it's extremely disappointing and it's a missed opportunity, really, for the United States," she said.
A draft declaration prepared for the conference removed all references to Israel, the Middle East conflict and a call to bar "defamation of religion" -- an Arab-backed response to a 2006 controversy over Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that Western states see as a way to quash free expression.
Wood conceded there had been improvements to the document, but he said it was not enough.
"The United States will work with all people and nations to build greater resolve and enduring political will to halt racism and discrimination wherever it occurs," he said.
Diplomats said the high-profile presence of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the forum made it probable that touchy subjects would still dominate the proceedings.
Ahmadinejad, who has previously said Israel should be "wiped off the map" and questioned whether the Nazi Holocaust happened, will address the plenary and hold a news conference on Monday -- coinciding with Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Iran's sentencing of U.S.-Iranian journalist Roxana Saberi to eight years in prison on Saturday may also have dampened White House enthusiasm about the chance of direct diplomatic contact with Tehran at the conference.
Ahmadinejad is one of only a handful of heads of state who have confirmed they will attend the conference at the U.N.'s Palais des Nations.
Iranian dissidents on Saturday expressed dismay about his taking center stage, saying his participation "would only serve to discredit the conference."
Western officials have said they are preparing for a response if Ahmadinejad were to make "unacceptable" comments in his Monday remarks. Some said they would respond with rebuttals on the spot, and others signaled they could leave the forum.
One diplomat said: "We don't normally walk out of conferences run by the United Nations and we'd rather avoid doing it. But that doesn't mean that there aren't red lines that if breached would prompt us to take action."
(Writing by Sue Pleming and Laura MacInnis; editing by Paul Simao)
(Additional reporting by Kate Kelland in London, Holger Hansen in Berlin, Jan Strupczewski in Brussels; editing by Robert Woodward)
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 8:00 PM PDT
Updated: Monday, 20 April 2009 8:47 PM PDT
Wednesday, 15 April 2009
Racism in America - Is by our own design
Now Playing: Homeland Security spins their own - They are the ones encouraging racism
Z3 Readers ... I pass alongthis article I found online in the UK press... I have a hunch it is not the "new black president" that is leading to increase in "white supremacists" ... my hunch is that it is Americas Immigration Policies that is "fueling the fire" of hate, skin color, and white supremacism. In fact there is NO DOUBT IN MY MIND... we have allowed our country to loose our dignity and we are breeding hate and racism by our very own (sic) Immigration Policies and attitudes.
The recession and election of a black president has led to an increased risk from white supremacists, US security chiefs warned.
An intelligence report by officials at the Department of Homeland Security was issued last week alerting law enforcement agencies to right-wing extremists using the economic downturn to boost recruitment.
Security around Barack Obama has been tight since he was elected as president last year as a result of the perceived risk from racist groups.
White supremacist websites received a surge of new members after the election on November 4, analysis has found.
In their latest report, Homeland Security officials said the risk of extremist action had risen as a result of the current circumstances.
The document stated: "Despite similarities to the climate of the 1990s, the treat posed by lone wolves and small terrorist cells is more pronounced than in past years."
It further warns that restrictions on firearms and returning war veterans may lead to terror groups attempting to carry out attacks. Soldiers returning from the Iraq War could appeal to right-wing groups due to their skills and experience, it added.
The assessment came to light after conservative oblog sites began to comment on its content.
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 8:08 PM PDT
Updated: Monday, 20 April 2009 8:48 PM PDT
Friday, 10 April 2009
Killing of black man by police shakes La. town
Now Playing: Cops Kill man .... was finding "drugs worth it"
Topic: FAILURE by the GOVERNMENT
Z3 Readers this is a sad true story of how the "war on drugs" fucks a mans life up by shooting him for nothing more than being suspect in a drug witch hunt....
HOMER, La. (AP) - For 73 years before his killing by a white police officer, Bernard Monroe's life in this little town was as quiet as they come - five kids with his wife of five decades, all raised in the same house, supported by the same job.
The black man's death is making far more noise than he ever did, and raising racial tensions between the black community and the police department.
Rendered mute after losing his larynx to cancer, the 73-year-old retired power company lineman was in his usual spot on a mild Friday afternoon in February: A chair by the gate that led to his Adams Street home. A barbecue cooker smoked beside a picnic table in the yard as a dozen or so family members talked and played nearby.
All seemed peaceful, until two Homer police officers drove up.
In a report to state authorities, Homer police said Officer Tim Cox and another officer they have refused to identify chased Monroe's son, Shaun, 38, from a suspected drug deal blocks away to his father's house.
Witnesses dispute that account, saying the younger Monroe was talking to his sister-in-law in a truck in front of the house when the officers pulled up.
All agree Shaun Monroe, who had an arrest record for assault and battery but no current warrants, drove up the driveway and went into the house. Two white police officers followed him. Within minutes, he ran back outside, followed by an unidentified officer who Tasered him in the front yard.
Seeing the commotion, Bernard Monroe confronted the officer. Police said that he advanced on them with a pistol and that Cox, who was still inside the house, shot at him through a screen door.
Monroe fell dead along a walkway. How many shots were fired isn't clear; the coroner has refused to release an autopsy report, citing the active investigation.
Police said Monroe was shot after he pointed a gun at them, though no one claims Monroe fired shots. Friends and family said he was holding a bottle of sports water. They accuse police of planting a gun he owned next to his body.
"Mr. Ben didn't have a gun," said 32-year-old neighbor Marcus Frazier, who was there that day. "I saw that other officer pick up the gun from out of a chair on the porch and put it by him."
Frazier said Monroe was known to keep a gun for protection because of local drug activity.
Despite the chase and Tasering, Shaun Monroe was not arrested. He and other relatives would not comment on the incident.
Monroe's gun is being DNA-tested by state police. The findings of their investigation will be given to District Attorney Jonathan Stewart, who would decide whether to file charges.
The case has raised racial tensions in this north Louisiana town, led to FBI and State Police investigations and drawn attention from national civil rights leaders.
"We've had a good relationship, blacks and whites, but this thing has done a lot of damage," said Michael Wade, one of three blacks on the five-member town council. "To shoot down a family man that had never done any harm, had no police record, caused no trouble. Suddenly everyone is looking around wondering why it happened and if race was the reason."
The Rev. Al Sharpton, who helped organize a massive 2007 civil rights demonstration in Jena after six black teenagers were charged with attempted murder in the beating of a white classmate, will lead a rally Friday in Homer.
"The parallel here is that the local community cannot trust law enforcement and cannot trust the process to go forward without outside help," Sharpton said.
Homer, a town of 3,800 about 45 miles northwest of Shreveport, is in the piney woods just south of the Arkansas state line. Many people work in the oil or timber industries; hunting and fishing are big pastimes.
In the old downtown, shops line streets near the antebellum Claiborne Parish courthouse on the town square.
The easygoing climate, blacks say, masked police harassment.
The black community has focused its anger on Police Chief Russell Mills, who is white. They say he's directed a policy of harassment toward them.
Mills declined interview requests, saying he retained a lawyer and feared losing his job. But after the Monroe killing, the Chicago Tribune quoted him as saying, "If I see three or four young black men walking down the street, I have to stop them and check their names. I want them to be afraid every time they see the police that they might get arrested."
"Word got around on what the chief said and things really boiled up again," said the Rev. Willie Young, president of the Claiborne Parish NAACP.
Mills describes his policing style as "aggressive" but denies making the statement to the Tribune. He would not permit interviews with his officers. The FBI and State Police said they received no complaints about Homer police before the shooting.
"They're more than aggressive around here," said Shirley Raney, 47, a homemaker who lived a few blocks from Monroe. She said officers pulled up at her house and searched her son before going to his home Feb. 20.
"They said there were drugs in this area and Chief Mills wanted it stopped," Raney said.
Meanwhile, the officers are on paid leave as Homer prepares for Friday's rally.
"I consider (the rally) to be more spiritual than divisive," said the NAACP's Young. "There are whites who understand the situation and are working with us."
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 7:40 PM PDT
Updated: Monday, 20 April 2009 8:50 PM PDT
Wednesday, 8 April 2009
Vast Coalition for Justice Uniting all the Oppressed
Now Playing: Paul Richmond
Vast Coalition for Justice Uniting all the Oppressed never had it easy. The hard times probably began when they were named Vast Coalition for Justice Uniting all the Oppressed. Still Vast Coalition for Justice Uniting all the Oppressed decided they would make the best of this and live up to their name.
When they reached the age of maturity Vast Coalition for Justice Uniting all the Oppressed decided they would solve the world’s problems and set off forging their path.
Vast Coalition for Justice Uniting all the Oppressed had gone a short distance on their path when they noticed an obstruction blocking it. The obstruction was at about hip level, and extended not only across the path, but several feet beyond it.
Vast Coalition for Justice Uniting all the Oppressed realized they had several options here. They could perhaps go over the obstruction or under it, or around it. Or perhaps Vast Coalition for Justice Uniting all the Oppressed could simply ask the obstruction in their path to move. Vast Coalition for Justice Uniting all the Oppressed decided to weigh the options. This would not take long.
In the years that followed the descendants of Vast Coalition for Justice Uniting all the Oppressed and all those who had stopped by to join them split into several distinct groups. One believed that the goals of Vast Coalition for Justice Uniting all the Oppressed could best be achieved if they all just went over the obstruction. Another believed the goal of Vast Coalition for Justice Uniting all the Oppressed could best be achieved if they went under the obstruction. Another group was certain that the goals of Vast Coalition for Justice Uniting all the Oppressed could best be achieved if they went around the obstruction. And of course another group believed the goals of Vast Coalition for Justice Uniting all the Oppressed could be achieved if they talked to the obstruction.
All of these groups were more or less equally convinced that theirs was the correct way to continue down the path begun by Vast Coalition for Justice Uniting all the Oppressed, and so they all worked more or less equally hard to convince each other that their way was the correct way. In order to make sure that their arguments were the most convincing each of the groups tried out all the different arguments among themselves before trying them on the other groups.
And as the years progressed, this served to divide each of these splinter groups of Vast Coalition for Justice Uniting all the Oppressed into even more splinter groups of Vast Coalition for Justice Uniting all the Oppressed. For example there was the group that wanted to follow the path of Vast Coalition for Justice Uniting all the Oppressed and go under the obstruction by putting their left feet first, and the faction that wanted to follow the path of Vast Coalition for Justice Uniting all the Oppressed and lead with their right feet, and the faction that wanted to follow the path of Vast Coalition for Justice Uniting all the Oppressed by going under the obstruction on their bellies, and the faction that wanted to follow the path of Vast Coalition for Justice Uniting all the Oppressed by going under the obstruction on their backs, and so on.
And so it also went with the other factions determined to follow the path of Vast Coalition for Justice Uniting all the Oppressed. For example the faction that wanted to continue on the path of Vast Coalition for Justice Uniting all the Oppressed by talking to the obstruction divided over issues such as tone of voice, use of language, time of day they should talk to the obstruction and countless other issues. And the faction that wanted to continue on the path of Vast Coalition for Justice Uniting all the Oppressed by going over the obstruction divided among those who wanted to build a bridge over the obstruction, which divided into those who wanted to build different types of bridges, and there were those who wanted to build a craft that could go over the obstruction which divided into those who wanted to build a jumping device and those who wanted to build a balloon and those who wanted to build a helicopter each of which had their distinct advantages to be sure.
With time there came those who realized that all the fragments of Vast Coalition for Justice Uniting all the Oppressed were all there for the same reason and should be working together. “Brothers and Sisters.” said one of these.
“It should be ‘Sisters and Brothers,” said one who started another faction of those who had the best way to unite the many factions of those who wanted Vast Coalition for Justice Uniting all the Oppressed to continue down their path. “Fathers, Mothers, Sisters, Brothers,” said one who started another faction of those who wanted to unite all those who wanted Vast Coalition for Justice Uniting all the Oppressed to continue down their path. “Daughters, Sons…” began one who started another faction.
And so it went. And the struggle continued. And that was really what it was all about, wasn’t it?
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 10:22 PM PDT
Thursday, 2 April 2009
Straits of Hormuz
Now Playing: The "Hartford" sub needs to be towed from Middle East
Hello Z3 Readers, check this article out ....
Gary’s Note: Our resident oil man Byron King is also a Navy guy. The archives of the Whiskey Bar are filled with his musings and commentaries on Naval history. Here, Byron discusses a recent collision at sea that almost changed the way the world does the oil business. Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whiskey & Gunpowder
By Byron W. King
April 2, 2009
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
We Almost Lost the Straits of Hormuz
For many years, we in the West have worried about Iran closing the Straits of Hormuz to oil tanker traffic. An abrupt closure would instantly spike oil prices well into three-digits, and immediately change the energy equation of the world. Indeed, many geostrategic scholars believe that closing the Straits of Hormuz would be tantamount to an act of war.
But what if it was the US that closed the Straits of Hormuz? What would the world think if the US directly precipitated the end of ship traffic in the Straits, or at least severe restrictions on transit and passage?
Closing Hormuz? We Almost Found Out…
Well, we almost found out last Friday, March 20. That was when two US Navy ships collided during an otherwise routine transit through the Straits of Hormuz. And one of the vessels was a nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Hartford (SSN-768). Hartford is a Los Angeles-Class attack submarine.
In those dark hours of collision and confusion — and as is often his custom and courtesy — the god of the sea Poseidon favored the US Navy. That is, we did not experience the catastrophe of a nuclear submarine sinking in the Straits of Hormuz. Now THAT would have altered the shipping and energy patterns of the world.
But one cannot but wonder “what if” in situations like this? “What if” worse things had happened? “What if” the worst occurred? Remember the Russian submarine Kursk, which tragically sank in 2000 in the icy waters off northern Russia.
Here Is What We Know...
Early in the morning of March 20, submarine Hartford was transiting into the Persian Gulf through the Hormuz Straits. Hartford was accompanying an amphibious surface ship, the USS New Orleans (LPD-18) which was making her first extended deployment. Hartford was “submerged but near the surface” at the time of the collision, according to Navy officials.
For reasons not yet known, the two ships collided. According to one report, submarine Hartford rolled 85-degrees to starboard. The impact and rolling caused injuries to 15 Sailors onboard. The bow planes and sail of the submerged Hartford ripped into the hull of New Orleans.
According to a Navy statement, the collision punched a 16-by-18 foot hole in the fuel tanks of New Orleans. Two interior ballast tanks were also damaged, the statement said. USS New Orleans lost about 25,000 gallons of diesel fuel, which rapidly dissipated in the ocean and could not be tracked after a few days. There were no injuries to New Orleans crew of 360 or the embarked unit of 700 US Marines.
Nuclear-powered submarine Hartford was severely damaged. Indeed, the submarine’s sail was torn from its mountings to the vessel’s pressure hull. (See photos below, courtesy of US 5th Fleet.) The submarine’s sail is clearly bent by several degrees to starboard. It’s not part of the builder’s specs, that’s for sure. Apparently, the submarine’s communication masts and periscope are warped and inoperable. The watertight integrity of the pressure hull is suspect. After the collision, Hartford transited on the surface to Bahrain, where the vessel tied up to a military pier.
“It’s important to point out that Hartford’s [nuclear] power plant was not affected in this at all,” said a Navy spokesperson. Also, according to the Navy, “Despite the roll, engineering investigations have confirmed the propulsion plant of the submarine was unaffected by this collision… However, Hartford sustained damage to its sail and periscope, as well as the port bow plane.”
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Deployment Ending, Now for the Long Trek Home
According to a report in the latest issue of Navy Times, this is a “deployment ending” event for the USS Hartford. The submarine cannot fulfill its combat mission. The vessel must move to a nuclear-capable shipyard to undergo extensive repairs, costing “in the tens of millions of dollars” according to one source. Coincidentally, USS Hartford ran aground in 2003 near La Maddalena, Italy, damaging its bottom and rudder. Repairs then cost near $10 million and involved installing equipment that had to be cannibalized from another, decommissioned submarine.
In all likelihood, in its current state Hartford will be restricted from submerging. So the question is how to bring the damaged vessel on a long, transoceanic trek back to the US for repairs.
The submarine may be able to transit back to a nuclear-capable shipyard in the US under her own power. A voyage like that would have to be made entirely on the surface, due to the risks of submerging the damaged pressure hull. Nothing is easy, however. A surface transit would require extensive preparations and effort, to include armed Navy escort.
Sailing a damaged nuclear submarine from the Middle East to the US would likely require avoiding many of the busy sea-lanes of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. Just the fact of a damaged nuclear submarine re-transiting the Straits of Hormuz, on the surface and within sight of Iranian spotters, must give chills to US Navy planners.
Suez? Or the Cape of Good Hope?
The shortest route home would involve transiting the Red Sea, Suez Canal and Mediterranean Sea. But this is problematic, considering the public relations nightmare of a damaged US nuclear-powered vessel moving through busy seas adjacent to densely populated regions that are critical to world commerce.
Or Hartford could transit south around Africa, and sail around the Cape of Good Hope.
Doubtless, the South African Navy would take an interest in any southerly transit by USS Hartford. South Africa has a fine, modern navy that includes three brand-new, German-built Type-209 diesel-electric submarines. Indeed, the South African Navy Base at Simons Town — home-port to its Type-209s, relatively remote and very secure — might be a suitable locale for the US Navy to consider for logistic and/or emergency support. However the South African government might also be concerned at the presence of a damaged nuclear vessel in or near its waters. Last fall, the South African nuclear regulatory authorities waited until almost the last minute to give approval for a port call at Cape Town by the (undamaged) nuclear powered aircraft carrier, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71).
If Hartford does not sail home on her own, the US Navy would have to arrange a “lift” for Hartford. This would entail placing and securing the 2,800-ton submarine on the flat deck of a large transport vessel, such as occurred with the USS Cole in 2000 after that ship was bombed while at anchor in port in Yemen. But removing Hartford’s hull from the sea would also require jury-rigging a continuous means to pump seawater and cool the ship’s nuclear reactor. Nothing like this has ever been done before.
Money, Assets, Favors, Political Capital — and Luck
Whatever happens, the damage to the USS Hartford is going to take much money, many Navy assets, and a lot of favors and political capital to fix. We in the US are certainly not finished hearing about the USS Hartford, let alone paying for it. Then again, we were very lucky. For both our Navy and our country, it could have been much, much worse.
As a long-time student of both Naval history and disaster, I commend Poseidon that, once again, he has favored the US Navy — even in adversity — and that the Straits of Hormuz are still open. Going forward, we had better absorb the lessons and not press our luck.
Until we meet again,
Byron W. King
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 7:28 PM PDT
Updated: Thursday, 2 April 2009 5:31 PM PDT
Monday, 30 March 2009
Three million youngsters will die by 2015
Now Playing: Starving in a world with people who dont care
Ten Million more children across the globe face starvation because of the global financial meltdown, with 4000,000 expected to die this year
About 3million youngsters are expected to die by 2015 as a direct result of the economic crisis, according to Save the Children.
Food shortages will leave millions more youngsters under six across Africa and the developing world malnourished – adding to the estimated 122million already children starving worldwide.
Up to 2.7million youngsters are acutely malnourished – nine times more likely to die – in Africa, while up to 4.7million are suffering in South Asia. The figures were released by Save the Children ahead of the G20 Summit this week. 'The world economy is in crisis and it is children that are bearing the brunt,' said actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who is the charity's global ambassador.
'As the recession bites, families in the developing world will have to struggle even harder to survive.' Four-year-old Abdi, from Kenya, is among the many victims. He is fighting malaria and weighs just 12kg (26lb). 'We are so worried for the future,' said his father Ada Mohammed. 'He was in bed for a whole week when we couldn't feed him.'
Kenya has been among the hardest hit countries, with 100,000 more children suffering from malnutrition since the crisis as a drought wreaks havoc with crops. Save the Children is urging prime minister Gordon Brown and the other G20 leaders to use this week's summit in London to help the children's plight.
'The UK government must work harder to ensure that its investments in agriculture and child welfare improve children's diets now, before it's too late,' said David Mepham, head of policy for the charity.
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 8:00 PM PDT
Updated: Tuesday, 31 March 2009 10:10 PM PDT
Saturday, 28 March 2009
Solving Hunger one corner at a time
Now Playing: A City in In Brazil their Hunger Problem is not a problem
> The City That Ended Hunger
> by Frances Moore Lappé
> A city in Brazil recruited local farmers to help do something U.S. cities have
> yet to do: end hunger.
> In writing Diet for a Small Planet, I learned one simple truth: Hunger is not
> caused by a scarcity of food but a scarcity of democracy. But that realization
> was only the beginning, for then I had to ask: What does a democracy look like
> that enables citizens to have a real voice in securing life’s essentials?
> Does it exist anywhere? Is it possible or a pipe dream? With hunger on the rise
> here in the United States—one in 10 of us is now turning to food
> stamps—these questions take on new urgency.
> To begin to conceive of the possibility of a culture of empowered citizens
> making democracy work for them, real-life stories help—not models to adopt
> wholesale, but examples that capture key lessons. For me, the story of
> Brazil’s fourth largest city, Belo Horizonte, is a rich trove of such
> lessons. Belo, a city of 2.5 million people, once had 11 percent of its
> population living in absolute poverty, and almost 20 percent of its children
> going hungry. Then in 1993, a newly elected administration declared food a
> right of citizenship. The officials said, in effect: If you are too poor to buy
> food in the market—you are no less a citizen. I am still accountable to you.
> The new mayor, Patrus Ananias—now leader of the federal anti-hunger
> effort—began by creating a city agency, which included assembling a 20-member
> council of citizen, labor, business, and church representatives to advise in
> the design and implementation of a new food system. The city already involved
> regular citizens directly in allocating municipal resources—the
> “participatory budgeting” that started in the 1970s and has since spread
> across Brazil. During the first six years of Belo’s food-as-a-right policy,
> perhaps in response to the new emphasis on food security, the number of
> citizens engaging in the city’s participatory budgeting process doubled to
> more than 31,000.
> The city agency developed dozens of innovations to assure everyone the right to
> food, especially by weaving together the interests of farmers and consumers. It
> offered local family farmers dozens of choice spots of public space on which to
> sell to urban consumers, essentially redistributing retailer mark-ups on
> produce—which often reached 100 percent—to consumers and the farmers.
> Farmers’ profits grew, since there was no wholesaler taking a cut. And poor
> people got access to fresh, healthy food.
> When my daughter Anna and I visited Belo Horizonte to write Hope’s Edge we
> approached one of these stands. A farmer in a cheerful green smock, emblazoned
> with “Direct from the Countryside,” grinned as she told us, “I am able to
> support three children from my five acres now. Since I got this contract with
> the city, I’ve even been able to buy a truck.”
> The improved prospects of these Belo farmers were remarkable considering that,
> as these programs were getting underway, farmers in the country as a whole saw
> their incomes drop by almost half.
> In addition to the farmer-run stands, the city makes good food available by
> offering entrepreneurs the opportunity to bid on the right to use
> well-trafficked plots of city land for “ABC” markets, from the Portuguese
> acronym for “food at low prices.” Today there are 34 such markets where the
> city determines a set price—about two-thirds of the market price—of about
> twenty healthy items, mostly from in-state farmers and chosen by store-owners.
> Everything else they can sell at the market price.
> “For ABC sellers with the best spots, there’s another obligation attached
> to being able to use the city land,” a former manager within this city
> agency, Adriana Aranha, explained. “Every weekend they have to drive
> produce-laden trucks to the poor neighborhoods outside of the city center, so
> everyone can get good produce.”
> Another product of food-as-a-right thinking is three large, airy “People’s
> Restaurants” (Restaurante Popular), plus a few smaller venues, that daily
> serve 12,000 or more people using mostly locally grown food for the equivalent
> of less than 50 cents a meal. When Anna and I ate in one, we saw hundreds of
> diners—grandparents and newborns, young couples, clusters of men, mothers
> with toddlers. Some were in well-worn street clothes, others in uniform, still
> others in business suits.
> “I’ve been coming here every day for five years and have gained six
> kilos,” beamed one elderly, energetic man in faded khakis.
> “It’s silly to pay more somewhere else for lower quality food,” an
> athletic-looking young man in a military police uniform told us. “I’ve been
> eating here every day for two years. It’s a good way to save money to buy a
> house so I can get married,” he said with a smile.
> No one has to prove they’re poor to eat in a People’s Restaurant, although
> about 85 percent of the diners are. The mixed clientele erases stigma and
> allows “food with dignity,” say those involved.
> Belo’s food security initiatives also include extensive community and school
> gardens as well as nutrition classes. Plus, money the federal government
> contributes toward school lunches, once spent on processed, corporate food, now
> buys whole food mostly from local growers.
> “We’re fighting the concept that the state is a terrible, incompetent
> administrator,” Adriana explained. “We’re showing that the state
> doesn’t have to provide everything, it can facilitate. It can create channels
> for people to find solutions themselves.”
> For instance, the city, in partnership with a local university, is working to
> “keep the market honest in part simply by providing information,” Adriana
> told us. They survey the price of 45 basic foods and household items at dozens
> of supermarkets, then post the results at bus stops, online, on television and
> radio, and in newspapers so people know where the cheapest prices are.
> The shift in frame to food as a right also led the Belo hunger-fighters to look
> for novel solutions. In one successful experiment, egg shells, manioc leaves,
> and other material normally thrown away were ground and mixed into flour for
> school kids’ daily bread. This enriched food also goes to nursery school
> children, who receive three meals a day courtesy of the city.
> The result of these and other related innovations?
> In just a decade Belo Horizonte cut its infant death rate—widely used as
> evidence of hunger—by more than half, and today these initiatives benefit
> almost 40 percent of the city’s 2.5 million population. One six-month period
> in 1999 saw infant malnutrition in a sample group reduced by 50 percent. And
> between 1993 and 2002 Belo Horizonte was the only locality in which consumption
> of fruits and vegetables went up.
> The cost of these efforts?
> Around $10 million annually, or less than 2 percent of the city budget.
> That’s about a penny a day per Belo resident.
> Behind this dramatic, life-saving change is what Adriana calls a “new social
> mentality”—the realization that “everyone in our city benefits if all of
> us have access to good food, so—like health care or education—quality food
> for all is a public good.”
> The Belo experience shows that a right to food does not necessarily mean more
> public handouts (although in emergencies, of course, it does.) It can mean
> redefining the “free” in “free market” as the freedom of all to
> participate. It can mean, as in Belo, building citizen-government partnerships
> driven by values of inclusion and mutual respect.
> And when imagining food as a right of citizenship, please note: No change in
> human nature is required! Through most of human evolution—except for the last
> few thousand of roughly 200,000 years—Homo sapiens lived in societies where
> pervasive sharing of food was the norm. As food sharers, “especially among
> unrelated individuals,” humans are unique, writes Michael Gurven, an
> authority on hunter-gatherer food transfers. Except in times of extreme
> privation, when some eat, all eat.
> Before leaving Belo, Anna and I had time to reflect a bit with Adriana. We
> wondered whether she realized that her city may be one of the few in the world
> taking this approach—food as a right of membership in the human family. So I
> asked, “When you began, did you realize how important what you are doing was?
> How much difference it might make? How rare it is in the entire world?”
> Listening to her long response in Portuguese without understanding, I tried to
> be patient. But when her eyes moistened, I nudged our interpreter. I wanted to
> know what had touched her emotions.
> “I knew we had so much hunger in the world,” Adriana said. “But what is
> so upsetting, what I didn’t know when I started this, is it’s so easy.
> It’s so easy to end it.”
> Adriana’s words have stayed with me. They will forever. They hold perhaps
> Belo’s greatest lesson: that it is easy to end hunger if we are willing to
> break free of limiting frames and to see with new eyes—if we trust our
> hard-wired fellow feeling and act, no longer as mere voters or protesters, for
> or against government, but as problem-solving partners with government
> accountable to us.
> Frances Moore Lappé wrote this article as part of Food for Everyone, the
> Spring 2009 issue of YES! Magazine. Frances is the author of many books
> including Diet for a Small Planet and Get a Grip, co-founder of Food First and
> the Small Planet Institute, and a YES! contributing editor.
> The author thanks Dr. M. Jahi Chappell for his contribution to the article
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 5:17 AM PDT
Updated: Saturday, 28 March 2009 6:00 AM PDT
Friday, 27 March 2009
Shakle & Chain The Filthy Pregnant Immigrant This is America God Damnit
Now Playing: Fuck People - In America we follow the (sic) law first
(Z3 Readers - an editor note) The title is written in sarcasm, I am sickened by the treatment our country levies on innocent human beings. Fuck Our Shitty Policy!
Help Amnesty International correct this sick madness, read and donate info below.
Juana Villegas, who was nine months pregnant at the time, was arrested last July by the police for a minor driving offense in Nashville, Tennessee. After her arrest, authorities discovered that she was an immigrant from Mexico and transferred her to a county jail so that she could be picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Two nights later, Juana went into labor and was moved from jail to a hospital. She was shackled in the ambulance, while in her hospital bed, and again immediately after delivery. She even remained shackled to walk from her hospital bed to the bathroom, although there was never any reason to suspect that Juana was a flight risk or that she posed a danger to others. These detentions—which cost hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars each year—often violate both U.S. standards and international human rights laws.
In Amnesty's new report Jailed Without Justice, our researchers discovered that tens of thousands of people are languishing in immigration detention, including immigrants, asylum seekers, torture survivors and even some U.S. citizens. Detainees can remain in immigration detention for years without ever receiving a court hearing to determine whether their detention is warranted and they are often treated inhumanely while in custody.
I'd like to tell you that Juana's case isn't typical. But, our researchers identified numerous stories similar to hers—where detainees have been housed in criminal facilities, excessive shackling is the norm, and medical needs are often ignored.
Our own government is mistreating many immigrants and asylum-seekers fleeing torture, religious persecution, or civil war. Many are sent to prison with no access to lawyers or medical care, and detained far away from family and support systems. You and I cannot let this stand.
Please make a tax-deductible donation to Amnesty International's campaign to pressure the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Congress to mandate that detainees are treated humanely and receive due process while in custody, just click here if you can help support Amnesty International's new campaign to hold the U.S. government accountable for these serious human rights violations.
Thank you for your continued commitment to defending human rights.
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 7:31 PM PDT
Updated: Saturday, 28 March 2009 5:19 AM PDT
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