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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Talk about UN Troops going to Darfur

Fours years after the genocide became obvious to anyone with 20/20 vision, the United Nations is going to do something more than talk about a solution. Of course they have been applying bandages to the situation, quite literally in huge refugee camps, but there have been no steps towards a solution. Citizens need to talk out loud but leaders need to take actions.

Clifden Memorial 00008

African Union troops have been in the region for several years. Just observing, mind you. The AU provides limited security guard services at the aforementioned massive refugee camps. For that they should be commended, after all, Sudanese military guns have been trained on those troops all that time.

Leaders watching genocide is not a solution. American and British spies watched and filed reports about the genocide in Germany for years without the ability to take any direct action. The purpose of Auschwitz, Treblinka and other death camps were well known to Allied leadership. The Pope knew about Hitler's "Final Solution" too.

For some reason Post WWI leaders seem unwilling to accurately understand the causes of violence, to actually identify the culprits out loud and demand an immediate cessation to causes and the killing. Unless there is oil, a very large amount of oil, in question. In that case a scorched earth policy of aerial bombardment seems justified. The leaders of the U.S. still claim to not understand why militants want to kill U.S. citizens. It has nothing to do with the U.S. penchant for propping up brutal autocrats and military dictators, right?

If the U.S. and Britain parked a couple of aircraft carriers off the coast of Sudan three years ago how many lives would have been saved? Action would have been taken after no more than a few flybys of Khartoum, in all likelihood. Instead the entire world watched as Sudanese government forces, and their cohorts, burned hundreds of native villages to the ground. The carriers sailed right past Sudan to go make war on Iraq.

Now the UN will go to Sudan, with authorization to shoot back. That special permission to actually use the automatic weapon hanging from your shoulder will help some UN soldiers (Read: Dutch or New Zealand officers over Pakistani and Bangladeshi troops) sleep a little better at night. The reason the UN voted for that provision was that other genocide, the 350,000 dead in Rwanda. UN troops were not allowed to stop that wholesale slaughter. They could only watch and kick refugees back out on the street to be killed.

It is a strange penchant modern governments have, the desire to watch murder for years while doing nothing about it. Oh, yes, there are sanctions. Nothing more than an open invitation to smugglers to create a black market. Sanctions usually do a great job of starving the civilian populations and increasing infant mortality rates. Ten years of sanctions reduced the Iraqi economy to a shambles. Sanctions are having some impact in Iran, their commercial airliners keep crashing for lack of spare parts.

The greatest impact of the UN decision to send troops to Darfur region of Sudan happened today. Thousands of people read about it in the newspapers and saw it on their evening news programs. Ordinary citizens need to talk openly and loudly about mass murder, no matter what nation is perpetrating the acts. Leaders need to listen, investigate and take necessary actions. How hard is that process to understand?

Did you know 700,000 civilians have been killed since the U.S. invasion and start of the Iraqi Civil War? That is about the same number of deaths that resulted from the U.S. Civil War. That 1860s internal war caused more U.S. casualties than all other wars where the U.S. participated. 400,000 Northerners and 300,000 Southerners died as a result of that war. Students are carefully taught some of the lessons of that horrible conflict between brothers. The North and the South also used improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in that war. One must wonder what the surviving Iraqis are teaching their children about the current war. Do the educated Sudanese talk about their nation's wars? How many more decades must pass before humans can honestly say they are civilised?

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Lessons of TAM Flight 3054 and Congonhas Airport

The terrible accident involving a Brazilian TAM airlines jet manufactured by Airbus should not be considered an isolated incident. It is all too likely to be repeated at a major airport near you. There are many other airports located in densely populated regions around the world. There are also many airports that provide only a minimum-length runway for landing commercial aircraft in poor weather conditions. Finally, there are many airports that pose a threat to major population centers, even if their runways are of sufficient length.

Japan Airlines 747 approaching LAX Airport 01381

National airport, located in the heart of the Washington, DC metropolitan area, is just one example. Members of U.S. Congress and certain airlines have insisted this airport remain open despite being located immediately adjacent to Washington, Crystal City, and Alexandria, Virginia. That runway is considered just long enough for jet aircraft such as the 737. These jets must carefully approach over the Potomac River, land precisely, or else end up in the river or in downtown Crystal City. Weather, mechanical issues, and pilot error can quickly devour any margin for error that may exist at such airports.

Midway Airport in Chicago, LAX (displayed below), San Francisco Airport, Norfolk Airport, New York's LaGuardia, Boston's Logan International, Miami International, and Fort Lauderdale Airport are just a few examples of U.S. airports situated in or very close to densely populated areas. Midway and LaGuardia have notorious safety records blamed on short runways but they still remain in daily use like all the others.

Midway Airport, Chicago 09137

Military airports also pose a threat to growing populations. Oceana Naval Air Station, located in the city of Virginia Beach, Virginia, brings daily overflights of military aircraft with the loud noise and ever-present chance of an accident in a densely populated city.

Around the world there are several major airports with poor safety records but Quito, Ecuador may have the worst. The capital of Ecuador operates an airport carved out of a mountain top. It has seen more than the usual share of deadly missed approaches. There have been four fatal accidents there in the past 15 years.

Honolulu and Taiwan airports, like those on many islands, have just enough runway length to permit a safe jumbo jet landing in a rainstorm, but little room for error. Hong Kong closed dangerous Kai Tak after completing Chek Lap Kok Airport on another island. Tokyo also filled in a harbor in order to build the entirely new Narita Airport. These new airports are considered safer, partially because a plane that overshoots the end of their runways would likely end up in the water rather than in the side of a large building.

Pilot errors, poor weather conditions, and aircraft congestion multiply the chances for fatal accidents. Aviation officials cannot continue to overlook glaring issues related to airport location, just because most airline pilots are skilled professionals with years of experience. The excellent maintenance procedures practiced by most airlines should not be used as an excuse to overlook airports that are bumping up against the limits of safety in crowded population centers.

Rapidly increasing populations drive two issues related to airport safety. As regional populations swell, airlines respond with more and more flights to and from those cities. Airport development can barely keep pace with the demands for more daily flights. Furthermore, expanding suburban housing subdivisions often encroach on airports once considered to be located a safe distance from major population centers.

Dulles Airport Virginia 01731

Washington's Dulles airport used to be located adjacent to the horse farms of Virginia's landed gentry. Today, nearby Loudoun County Virginia is densely populated bedroom community. Every new resident to Loudoun County soon learns that jets approaching Dulles Airport fly just above their children in playgrounds and backyards. As long as every approaching 747 stays aloft long enough to reach the runway, everyone feels more or less safe. One accident would likely bring plummeting home prices and and an outcry from impacted citizens. That happened in Virginia Beach just a few years ago when a Navy jet crashed near Oceana. Oceana Naval Air Station remains open and housing development close to the runways continues.

City and national government officials will refuse to properly address the issues presented by urban airports as long as the airport taxes keep rolling in to city coffers. They will all consider the risks posed by these airports "acceptable" until a tragic accident occurs such as what happened at Congonhas in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Even then city officials in other cities will quickly point to other possible issues long before they consider closing a dangerous cash cow located within their population centers.

Thai Airlines 747 approaching LAX Airport 1388

Images from TAM Flight 3054
Airport Safety News

Friday, July 27, 2007

The Cost of the Iraq War

For the cost of the war in Iraq malaria could have been eradicated on earth.
For the cost of the war in Iraq every starving child on earth could have been fed, for years and years.
For the cost of the war in Iraq every child with no school could have a school, a teacher, and textbooks for 12 years.
For the cost of the war in Iraq every homeless person could have received counseling, education, a room to live in, and a job.
For the cost of the war in Iraq every heroin addict could have received years of effective treatment.
For the cost of the war in Iraq the genocide in Darfur, Sudan could have been stopped.

The cost of the war in Iraq has been 700,000 (seven hundred thousand) lives.
The cost of the war in Iraq has been 2 million new refugees.
The cost of the war in Iraq has been a total loss of international reputation for the people of the United States and Britain, two of the wealthiest nations on Earth.

Perhaps that last cost is well deserved, nevertheless, how long must this disgusting betrayal of basic human principals go on?
The people of the United States and Britain have been hoodwinked by despicable leaders seeking only bloody revenge and oil. The truth is, most people in the United States have supported this war for the past four years. They could have demanded an end to it shortly after it started. Instead, the people of the U.S. have willingly paid for this wholesale slaughter out of their own pockets. They prefer to watch television rather than put a stop to their filthy war machine.

The Cost of War

It is 1939 all over again and the people of America do not care that their fascist leader is committing genocide. They simply want to be left alone to mindlessly watch stupid and often violent television programs and movies.
Tropical Rainbow 00110 or Nuclear Blast 1945?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

"A Blowout Quarter" for APPLE (AAPL)

Observations from today's Apple, Inc. Quarterly Conference Call.

(Note: As of 1800 EDT shares of Apple, Inc. were up more than $15)

- Quarterly profit leaped more than 73%, fueled mostly by non-iPhone products.
- Profits of $818 million, including about $5 million sales at each retail store.
- They now have thousands of AT&T stores (including former Cingular outlets) pushing their fastest selling product; iPhone.

- Strong sales of MacBooks and MacBook Pro in a usually slow quarter. They were actually unable to meet demand for the new MacBook Pro models released in June.
- Best education sales quarter ever.
- Professional sales of Adobe Creative Suite and Final Cut Studio exceeded expectations.
- 8G iPhone model sold more than the 4G iPhone

- No delays in shipping iPhones ordered from apple.com
- iPhone is in stock at most retail Apple and AT&T stores
- Over a quarter of a million iPhones sold in the first 36 hours (270k)
- Quiet about payments from AT&T and other vendors of services displayed on iPhone screen. But there are "hidden" revenue streams coming from iPhone screen choices.

- European sales of iPhone to begin in Q4 in selected countries
"We are on track to begin selling the iPhone in Europe during the fourth calendar quarter of this year starting with a few major countries, and expanding the number of countries throughout 2008," said Apple CFO Pete Oppenheimer.

- Beat own guidance by nearly 30 cents.
- Beat analyst's expectations by an average of 20 cents
- Quarter of a million iPhones sold in the first 36 hours.

Forward Guidance

- Worried about component pricing going forward.
- Commodity prices expected to have an impact.
- DRAM prices may increase
- NAND prices expected to go up. Use of Flash memory increasing in all products.
- Expecting to open 10 stores before the end of 2007 for a total of 197 stores
- Again Apple is playing it very safe with extremely conservative estimates of less than 70 cents EPS in the the next quarter.

Between The Lines
There is a Leopard coming at them fast and they know that will drive revenue going into the traditionally very strong holiday season.

There is a new product just about to be released. The lemon yellow Beatles iPod filled with every Beatles song is likely to be a big hit with buyers in older age groups.

When the legal and technical hurdles to selling the Beatles catalog are crossed Apple will release those songs, no matter what time of year. Sales of iPod and iTune products for 2007 holiday season would be significantly impacted with such market timing.

Apple TV may well get more marketing attention.

Silence Is Golden

If you keep your mouth shut
And stay inside -
Then you'll live a long time.

If you blurt out
What you think to everyone,
Then you won't last long.

Value littleness. This is wisdom.
To bend like a reed
in the wind
- that is real strength.
St Michaels 16600

We Are All Guilty of Harboring Nuclear Weapons

It must come as an embarrassment to Condoleeza Rice and the rest of the U.S. diplomatic corps that the Bush White House is allowing John Bolton to broadcast U.S. policy on Iran through European media sources. In a recent interview with the widely read Telegraph newspaper in the United Kingdom, Bolton espouses various Bush Administration talking points on Iran. Yet, John Bolton holds no title in the U.S. since losing his post as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

Key West Schooner 49855

It is a concern that Iran is operating over 1,300 centrifuges for enriching uranium. It is troubling that Iran is working closely with North Korea to develop delivery vehicles for all types of warheads, including nuclear. Nevertheless the United Kingdom, Israel, France, Russia, Pakistan, India, China, and most important of all, the United States, also possess thousands of centrifuges and uncounted nuclear-tipped warheads. As long as any one nation feels compelled to maintain such diabolical machinery, all other powerful nations will feel compelled to "join the club."

Recently the Japanese government decided to revisit the notion of a pacifist constitution. Are the leaders of all nations really so ignorant of the 75 million deaths caused by World War Two to assume such a tragedy cannot happen again? In the event that even one modern, multiple-megaton warhead is detonated, who is prepared to grieve for the 5 million lives lost?

Citizens of all nations must be awakened and driven to demand demilitarization of human society. This is not something to be left to compliant scientists or subservient diplomats, official or otherwise. Reversing nuclear weapons proliferation, until it becomes a forgotten science, must be the goal of mothers and fathers everywhere. If not, why bother to bring a single child into existence knowing it will likely perish in nuclear-fueled flames? If you cherish life on earth you must stand up in loud and public opposition to all weapons of mass-destruction, no matter what nation harbors such disgusting filth and irreverent weaponry.

When the first atomic weapons were used in combat in Nagasaki and Hiroshima thousands of humans literally melted to death in seconds. The leaders of all nations hung their heads in embarrassment at the depths of human depravity this represented. Who on earth deserves to be next in a nuclear meltdown of so-called "modern society?" If we do not oppose the grotesque policy named "mutually-assured destruction" than we are surely MAD. In that case perhaps we should leave the world to the likely survivors; rats, mosquitoes, and cockroaches

Friday, July 20, 2007

Michael Vick, Falcons, NFL, and dogs

It is amazing how worked up Americans are getting about Michael Vick's alleged dabbling in dog-fighting. Vick's critics are all up in arms about the fact that a pro football player would deliberately try to hurt another living creature. Remember, these huge men are all part of teams trained to physically attack each other week after week for many months on end. People are seriously injured all the time and people do get killed playing football. American football players are brutal Roman gladiators in every respect.
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The Romans never expected their arena fighters to display weakness in or out of the Coliseum. Frankly, most American-style football fans in the U.S., and elsewhere around the world, are not really too surprised that some players get into trouble.

Many people upset about Michael Vick's possible involvement in dog-fighting also tolerate the sport of boxing. These same people pay someone to kill all sorts of animals for them every day of the year. Nearly all Americans pay people to kill cows, pigs, chickens and all other manner of creature you could imagine. They support organizations that kill dogs and cats on a daily basis. Nevertheless, they swear by words in a book that say, "Thou shalt not kill." The Bible then goes on to describe how Christians slaughter each all the time.

Christians in the United States have grossly overweight dogs (and family members) while millions in Africa, Asia, and even here in America go hungry or even starve to death. Someone in Haiti will starve to death today while in Miami a fat dog will be fed twice.

The United States is one of the few nations that still practice capital punishment. The nefarious club of executioners includes the United States, Iran, China, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, North Korea, Zimbabwe, Sudan, and a few others. The rest of the world outlawed public executions, the United States obviously does not consider this "cruel or unusual punishment." What about fatal injections, hanging, and electrocution to death is not cruel or unusual?

The hypocrisy is startling.

People in the United States buy all sorts of products from Chinese merchants. WalMart is chock full of Chinese products full of all sorts of mysterious ingredients. All over China you can find restaurants with several small dogs tied up out back. These restaurants serve these dogs to their customers either broiled, fried or baked.

We buy millions of cars from Japan, a nation that annually slaughters thousands of whales just to have a tasty snack. Whales do not just talk to each other in complex languages, they sing to each other over vast distances. Whales are clearly sentient creatures yet we do not care if our car merchant is throwing spears into their brains. Just so long as our football players do not train dogs to attack.

Are you really upset that Michael Vick is embarrassing Georgia's Atlanta Falcons football fans with these dog racing allegations? Lots of people from Georgia like to drive down to Florida and bet on the cruel dog races. Falcon's games will be well attended, if not sold out, this year as in past years.

How upset are you about George W. Bush and Dick Cheney authorizing the torture of human beings? The pictures of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo were very real. People are tortured to death by Americans in those prisons and other secret concentration camps in places like Diego Garcia, Poland, and Romania. The torture authorization statements signed by Bush were also very real.

What is the difference between human torture and dog fighting?

Is sending our young boys to die for oil in Iraq any less cruel or unusual?
Why does the United States continue to provide weapons to nations good and bad all over the Earth?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Vain the Ambitions of Kings

Vain the ambitions of kings
Who seek by schemes and dead things to leave a good name behind,
And weave but nets to catch the wind.
- Anne Bronte

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Mass Murder in the Name of Christ and the Almighty Dollar

No, this column is not about the Iraq War but these observations can also be applied to the recent U.S. colonization of the Middle East.

Recent admissions by the United States surgeon generals point directly to total corruption of all U.S. elected officials. The top doctors told Congress that the Bush Administration prohibited release of many critical medical reports. Other reports were heavily censored so that life-saving information could deliberately be kept from the general public. This outright censorship caused the unnecessary deaths of thousands of U.S citizens. Millions more suffered incredible pain and suffering while the Bush Administration sought to advance a purely religious agenda. Furthermore, all other U.S. elected officials stood by silently knowing this terrible crime was taking place.

Lincoln Memorial 13460

The Bush Administration, evangelicals, and the Republican Party have totally politicized every single aspect of our lives in order to promote an extremist religious agenda. They must all be removed from power and prevented from holding any public office, at any level of government, ever again.

50 million Americans already know that they cannot have proper health care because the extreme rich want to hoard even more cash. If medicine and proper medical treatments were provided equally to all how could crooks like Richard Scrushy be paid salaries of $100 million each year? CEOs of health insurance firms fight for money to buy Lear jets while a mother in Baltimore watches her son die for lack of basic dental care. Proven health risks of tobacco smoke are hidden by George W. Bush and his cronies just to keep cigarette manufacturers rich and happy.

So it has come to this. Thousands must die in order for the members of one extremist religious sect to prosper. Just like their partners in crime, radical Islamic jihadists, the conservative Christians must be held accountable for these repeated acts of mass murder. We cannot allow a few totally deranged psychotics to continue to jeopardize the health and well-being of all others. Preventing doctors from providing known cures to treatable conditions is felonious as well as completely insane.

Legally speaking, the Bush Administration is repeatedly and knowingly violating two clauses of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The establishment clause prevents the U.S. government from establishing a national religion, providing tax dollars in support of religion, or otherwise favoring any single religion or religion generally. The free exercise clause ensures that private religious practices not be restricted by the government. This sound government principle that prohibits direct connections between religious and governmental institutions, while still protecting personal religious freedom and autonomy, is referred to as the "separation of church and state."

If you do not practice Christianity this means that the Bush Administration is actively challenging your personal religious beliefs using the U.S. government as a deadly weapon. However, this is not something that should only concern those that practice any religion other than Christianity. The Bush Administration is only helping churches that promote an extremist, evangelical, conservative Christian set of beliefs. All other religions be damned. If you are not a religious person, are you comfortable knowing that billions of tax dollars are being given to extreme right-wing fanatics praying for the end of the world? Remember, the leaders taking these acts also have access to a nuclear arsenal capable of annihilating the entire human race along with nearly every other living creature on earth.

The Bush Administration is regularly violating the U.S. Constitution even though the Chief Executive swore to uphold the U.S. Constitution. Therefore George W. Bush must be impeached and removed from public office as soon as possible.

What are you going to do about this?