Saturday, March 18, 2006

US Doesn’t See Dangers of Iran Overtures

I have a long standing theory that I have raised on my site before regarding some of the motivations of leaders around the Middle East. In a nutshell, many leaders in the arena have believed and do believe that, if they can muster the strength of the whole Muslim or Muslim affiliated world, they could either take the position of the second super-power vacated by the Soviet Union or they could even potentially become the dominant power in the world. Accomplishing this goal would not require uniting these disparate communities under one flag but would require uniting them behind one cause, and if this is the case the US has moved Iran two steps towards that goal today.

The cause to unite the Muslim world behind is easy – the treating of the Muslim community as second class citizens by the Western world and, specifically, the United States. Every Muslim I know senses this feeling of superiority, both morally and societally, from the West. There is a disparity between those Muslims who believe this is intentional and those who believe it’s the natural evolution of the societies, and those that believe it’s intentional, and those that believe the snub is intentional are generally speaking willing to mobilize their support against their oppressors. This is the real reason for the steady stream of rhetoric we see coming out of Iran and other countries in the Middle East.

While trying to convert the Muslim people to the believe that there is a malicious attempt to relegate the Muslim world to the position of second class citizens, these Muslim leaders point to Western imperialism as proof of the true Western motivations. They indicate the push to subvert any non-democratic governments, or even democratic governments that the US doesn’t agree with. They also point to the existence of Israel, and the US’ military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan as evidence of the West trying to push Democracy. Perhaps there has never been a more blatant example of US imperialism as Bush’ new initiative to broadcast Democratic messages to Iran.

The Bush administration this month announced a $75 million initiative to advance democracy in Iran by expanding broadcasting into the country, funding on governmental organizations and promoting cultural exchanges.

I must say I don’t think that a program like this would have any positive effect. My suspicion is that, like Radio Free America, the Iranian government will ban listening to the station, maybe even go so far as to threaten a death sentence for being caught listening. This will prevent listening to the station publicly, which includes the coffee houses, which is where men in the Middle East congregate to talk and listen to politics. But it will have negative ramifications, providing a clear example of the US trying to push our values on the Iranian people. Just not a smart tactical move!

The greater challenge for a Middle Eastern leader trying to unite the region is proving that that he can represents a viable threat to the West. Middle Eastern countries have seen the repercussions of threatening the West and not having the might to back up those threats, and most are too pragmatic to enter a conflict that will assure destruction of their country, as well as probably including removal from power and maybe even a political assassination to boot. Thus, the leader aspiring to Middle Eastern or World domination has to convince his peers that he is not intimidated by the West, and can even look Western powers square in the eye.

To prove this, Middle Eastern leaders have been testing the West for the better part of the past 15 years. The invasion of Kuwait was exactly this kind of a test, as Iraq really was threatening the West’s oil supply with the invasion more than they were threatening their neighbors. 9/11, the Subway bombings, and other al Qaeda terrorist attacks,, have been further testings of the West, as has been Palestinian terrorist attacks, the protests over the Mohammed cartoons, the murder of the Jordanian president, the pushing of Iran’s nuclear program, and a ton of other events that have occurred in the region.

But unlike the 1990s, recent attacks have gone unmatched by the swift, brutal retaliation that serves as a deterrent to future acts against the West. The inability to capture bin Laden was the first crack in the façade that had come to represent the West’s to the Muslim world, and as the war in Iraq changed from a quick strike into the heart of Iraqi society to a long, protracted war to bend the collective consciousness and moral structure that is Iraq, the US and the West have been seen as progressively weaker.

And then the protests over the Mohammed cartoons, where we went the opposite direction, compromising our freedoms and admonishing our free press in fear of the rapidly spreading protests. It leaves the Muslim leader with the perception that the West is no longer strong enough to protect itself against the Muslim world, except with the total destruction of nuclear weapons. And thus the steady push to develop Iran’s nuclear program and to develop closer ties with other nuclear powers, such as Russia and China.

And the final step is to prove that the Muslim leader is the correct leader to lead the Muslim world. Now much of this has to do with who holds the most military might, and that makes Ahmadinejad the obvious choice. Certainly I believe that that’s his goal. Also that leader would be someone who’s doing a fair bit of the testing of the West, again clearly Ahmadinejad qualifies, and of late he’s shown a willingness to work with other leaders who have made their own reputations against the West, namely Basher al-Assad, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and supposedly Bin Laden himself.

Today, out of the blue, Iran accepted a 3-month old invitation to discuss the conflict in Iraq, and how Iran can help install a free government in the war-torn country. And while the US views the acceptance with skepticism, this is out of worry that Iran is using this to divert attention from their nuclear program. In reality, neither the UN nor the US probably has the ability to prevent Iran’s nuclear enrichment program, and any penalties imposed by the UN Security Council will probably have every little effect on Iran’s nuclear program. Still, the US is willing to honor the invitation assuming the negotiations are isolated from issues regarding Iran’s nuclear program, not considering other potential motivations for the meeting.

Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani said earlier that Tehran had agreed to hold talks with the US following an appeal from a prominent Iraqi Shia politician.

Tehran, he said, had turned down previous requests by Washington for talks over Iraq but had accepted the proposal to start a dialogue.

"To resolve Iraqi issues, and to help the establishment of an independent and free government in Iraq, we agree to [talks with the US]," he told reporters.

By agreeing to meet with Iran about Iraq, the West legitimizes Iran, to some extent, as the country to work with over Middle Eastern issues, further enhancing the view of image of Iran as the power in the region. In this case, we are not even giving the illusion of working with a variety of leaders, a long-standing tactic in the Middle East which shows respect to multiple influential figures in the arena from both sides of the aisle, but instead we have come out directly and said we are speaking with Iran so they can use their influence to try to help in the Iraq conflict.

It is not a situation where they are contacting Iran because they have tremendous influence in Iraq itself, as they have been mortal enemies for decades, a blood feud that overshadows any potential for relations between citizens of the two countries. And it’s not as if we would ask Iran to provide a military presence to restore calm in Iran, because we certainly don’t want the Iranian military in Iraq. And I think we all know that asking Iran not to support insurgents in Iraq is an effort in futility, and just provides another opportunity for Iran to defy the US and the West. And it’s not like Iran is a normal negotiating partner for the US, as relations have been severed between Tehran and Washington since 1979.

The Guardian indicates these goals in opening negotiations with Iran over the war in Iraq:

America wants Iran to help persuade Iraqi Shia political parties to make concessions that will allow the formation of a stable government of national unity. The new Iraqi parliament opened this week with such a government notably lacking. Without one there is no chance of lessening the Sunni alienation which feeds the insurgency, threatens civil war, and prevents the adoption of a timetable for the reduction of US forces and, eventually, a respectable withdrawal. Iran wants the US to cease pushing so hard on the question of its nuclear programmes, which America and Europe have recently managed to place on the agenda of the Security Council where they are being, or soon will be, discussed.

Basically, the US is hoping Iran will use their position in the region to help cool tempers and accept some initial forms of democracy. And if Iran agrees to exert their influence, it will reinforce the image of Iran as a budding super-power, and further gather support behind Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, perhaps the scariest person in a terrifying region. Unfortunately, the Bush administration doesn’t see this, as they are thinking two dimensionally. They believe that Iran’s goal here could only be furthering their nuclear weapons program, and are missing a far scarier prospect.

The Bush administration views Tehran's acceptance of an American offer to talk about Iraq, made months ago, as an indication that Iran is feeling the international heat, national security adviser Steven J. Hadley said.

"What is interesting is that the Iranians would choose now, at this moment, in such a very public way, to embrace this idea and try to expand it to a negotiation about a broader set of issues," Hadley said.

"The concern, therefore, is that it is simply a device by the Iranians to try and divert pressure that they're feeling in New York, to try and drive a wedge between the United States and the other countries with which we are working on the nuclear issue and, if you will, divert pressure and divert attention."

Hadley added: "Obviously, this is something that we and those who are working with us on these issues will not let happen."

I think that both of these efforts, the democratic broadcasting in Iran and working with Iran to ease tensions in Iraq, are very dangerous propositions. Perhaps there are ways to utilize Iran to diffuse this situation, but we need to go into such a negotiation with our eyes wide open, and avoid winning a battle to lose a war.

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Posted by Scottage at 12:45 AM / | |  

Friday, March 17, 2006

New Poll and New Lottery: What Effect Will the Mid-Term Elections have on the Bush Government?

Well, it’s been difficult to shut down the 10 Greatest Dangers poll, because people keep responding to it. Only 3 days ago I announced I was shutting that poll down and looking for a new topic, but since then another 14 points have been recorded. It makes it awefully tough to shut it down, you know? But, all good things must come to an end, and as such so must this poll. But I have a new topic to discuss, and poll about: How much effect with the mid-term elections have on the policies of this government?

This all came from a discussion I had with my friend James a couple nights ago. We were actually trying to work up a list of potential candidates for 2008 so that I could start the poll suggested by Mike Buffington But James kept protesting that it is ridiculous to be focusing on 2008 when the crucial mid-term elections were closing in upon us. I was (and am) much more skeptical, as I believe that President Bush has pretty much decided he’s going to run the country the way he sees fit, and that he doesn’t care who’s in Congress or the house.

James does feel that the midterms can have some effect. But he also believes that no real change will be affected until there is a revamp of our electoral process. I found his ideas somewhat radical, but his suggestions are definitely school for thought and discussion. So, James discussed the following changes that could really create a government that represents the views and wishes of the country:

1) Outlaw the use of private funds for elections. Since the airwaves are government owned, James believes that each candidate should have a set amount of advertising time provided to them by the government. Additionally the government would provide each candidate with a budget for travel and other expenses, leveling the playing field by allowing candidates with a smaller who don’t have the financial resources to compete.
2) Mutli-Choice Ballets, where people select a first and second choice for the office in question and all the choices will be factored in when selecting the winning candidate (hopefully James will come here and explain that better).
3) A parliamentary system, allowing each diverse group in the US to have some representation on one level of government.

I think the first suggestion could actually really benefit our electoral system, though I think it would be expensive to implement, and the people in power will never allow it to occur. But that suggestion, at least, I find to be valuable in our society. I’m not so sure about the other two suggestions, but they are, at the very least, extremely interesting, and worthy of discussion.

So vote in the poll regarding the real effect of the mid-term elections on the Bush government. And then come here, sign in, and if you feel like it, respond to James thoughts for improving our government. Anyone who signs in here will be eligible for a lottery that I will hold on Sunday, March 26th just before midnight. The prize will be 250 credits on either BlogExplosion, BlogMad, BlogClicker, or the latest service I found, BlogAdvance. So comment here early and often, and good luck in the lottery!

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Posted by Scottage at 12:24 PM / | |  

Thursday, March 16, 2006

President Bush Voted in my Blog Poll!

No, he didn’t stop sign in, though he really should of, as I say so many, ahem, kind things about him. But he must have read about the poll, and not only did he respond but he had a whole report written up to back his statements.

President Bush said Thursday Iran may pose the greatest challenge to the United States and diplomacy to thwart the Islamic nation's nuclear program must prevail to avoid confrontation.

Well, this is unprecedented: while I don’t agree with George Bush that Iran is the greatest danger today (I’ve mentioned before I think that it’s the split between Islam and the West, and Ahmadinejad’s Iran is but one player in this controversy), I don’t wholly disagree with him, and that’s a start!

Bush goes on to point out other dangers: Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Russia and China, all from the poll. I must say I found his reason for putting Russia on the list was more than ironic:

On Russia, Bush said recent trends show a waning commitment to democratic freedoms and institutions. "Strengthening our relationship will depend on the policies, foreign and domestic that Russia adopts," he said.

Bush, criticizing Russia, the ex-Soviet Republic, for holding fast to democratic principles, while the US, the supposed “beacon of freedom”, continually eliminates the freedoms that our society is built around. That’s just too bizarre for me!

Anyway, I do want to thank Dubya for stopping by, and taking the time to make a public response to my poll. I offered him some BE credits, but he said that unless he could trade them for oil, he wasn’t interested. But regardless, thanks for stopping by, and don’t let the door hit you in the butt.

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Posted by Scottage at 6:48 PM / | |  

Bomb at NCAA Tournament? – Update

OK, an update to the developing issue at Cox. The device has been removed by a robotic device, according to the FBI, and they are using a robotic device to open the package in an isolated mobile chamber. There are thousands of people on the lawn of Cox arena, and there is no word yet on whether the people will be allowed back into the building.

I was asked for a link. CNN is swapping between Operation Swarmer and the arena on TV, but only have a paid video feed on their site. None of my other sites have articles up yet, though Fox News is starting to cover the story now. ESPN is the only story available, and you can find it at here. I hope they are being ultra-careful here, as there may be far more here than meets the eye.


Just a quick update that they have allowed people to enter the stadium now. There is no clear indication as to what was in the package, or if there was any danger to the game-watchers. As I hear more, I'll keep you posted.

Another Update

So, 6 hours after the incident, and we have been told nothing. The games did start, though late, and and there have been no further incidents. But we have not been told what was in the box, or any further information on the delay.

I have no idea if this means that it turned out to be a false alarm, or if we just aren't getting the scoop yet. IF I hear something more, I'll put it up here, so I don't have inaccurate or incomplete info on my blog.

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Posted by Scottage at 2:24 PM / | |  

Bomb at NCAA Tournament?

News has just come in that San Diego’s Cox arena, host to the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament, has been evacuated after bomb-sniffing dogs identified an unusual package inside a hot dog stand. There are no specifics on the number of people in the stadium, as the game is not due to start for over an hour.

Is this the bomb threat that so many have been worrying about, the big attack that we have expected for weeks? Is this nothing, a false alarm and a bit of egg on the face of San Diego security? {btw, it shouldn’t be egg on their face, better to err on the side of caution!} Or is this the beginning of multiple coordinated attacks, as we have seen in the past with terrorist attacks? Only time will tell.

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Posted by Scottage at 1:55 PM / | |  

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Boston Legal Rips Bush Administration

Did anyone watch Boston Legal last night? I’m not a huge fan, but I catch it now and again, and it’s good for a break from GMAT math. Well, I flipped on to it last night just as lawyer Alan Shore (James Spader) was about to go into his closing argument for the trial of a woman named Melissa Hughes, who decided not to pay her taxes because she was upset about our government’s actions over the past few years. Instead, she filled out her tax return and attached a post-it saying “stick-it”.

OK, it doesn’t sound realistic to me, at all. But, what followed was a great speech by Spader. It was so good I had to TiVo it and then type it up. It really encapsulates the Bush administration, and while I don’t agree on all points, I agree on many of them. Plus, the Adelaide Stevenson poem sent shivers up my spine, it fits so well with what we face today.

I wish I knew how to transfer the video over, but alas, all I can provide is the text. But check it out: it’s obvious that in the few months since I’ve seen an episode they must have picked up one hell of a writer!

When the Weapons of Mass Destruction thing turned out not to be true, I expected the American people to rise up, but they didn’t.

Then when the Abu Ghraib torture thing surfaced, and it was revealed that our government participated in rendition, a practice where we kidnap people and turn them over to regimes who specialize in torture, I was sure then the American people would be heard from. We stood mute.

Then came the news that we jailed thousands of so called terrorist suspects, locked them up without the right to a trial or even the right to confront their accusers. Certainly we would never stand for that. We did.

And now it’s been discovered the executive branch has been conducting massive illegal domestic surveillance on its own citizens, you and me. And I at least consoled myself that finally, finally the American people had had enough. Evidently we haven’t.

In fact if the people have spoken the message is “we’re ok with it all”. Torture, warrant less search and seizure, illegal wiretapping, prison without a fair trial, or any trial, war on false pretenses, we as a citizenry are apparently not offended. There are no demonstrations on college campuses, in fact there is no clear indication that young people even notice.

Well, Melissa Hughes noticed. Now, you might say, instead of withholding her taxes she should have protested the old fashioned way, made a placard and demonstrated at a presidential or vice-presidential appearance, but we’ve lost the right to that as well. The secret service can now declare free-speech zones, to contain, control, and in effect criminalize protest. Stop for a second, and try to fathom that! At a presidential rally, parade, or appearance, if you have on a supportive t-shirt you can be there, if you’re wearing something or holding something in protest, you can be removed. This, in the United States of America! This, in the United States of America! Is Melissa Hughes the only one who’s embarrassed?

… Long speeches make me so tired sometimes. Actually I’m sick and tired. And what I’m most sick and tired of is how every time somebody disagrees with how the government is running things they are labeled un-American [opposing council: “evidently it’s speech time”] And speech, in this country, is free, you hack. Free for you, free for me, free for Melissa Hughes to stand up to her government and say “stick it”.

[Opposing council: “I object”] I object to government using their constitutional power to squash the freedoms of its citizenry. And God forbid anybody challenges, their labeled a heretic. Melissa Hughes is an American. Melissa Hughes is an American. Melissa Hughes is an American. … Last night, I went to bed with a book, not as much fun as a 29 year old, but the book contained a poem by Adelaide Stevenson. The year was 1952. He said: “The tragedy of our day is the climate of fear in which we live. And fear breads repression. Too often sinister threats, to the bill of rights, to freedom of the mind, are concealed under the patriotic cloak of anti-communism.” Today, it’s anti-terrorism. He also said: “it’s far easier to fight for principles than to live up to them.”

I know we are all afraid. But the bill of rights, we have to live up to that, we simply must. That’s all Melissa Hughes was trying to say.

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Posted by Scottage at 6:11 PM / | |  

First Rentor: Rob in China

Perspectives of a Nomad has it's first rentor: Rob in China. Rob is travelling through China, as has a site which I've been watching for the past few weeks. The articles are well done, but the pictures are hillarious. My favorite is the devil dog, but the farmer sutra and the kitty held hostage had me rolling on the floor as well. Visit Rob, and support the Rent My Blog program.

Never heard of Rent My Blog? It's a program through BlogExplosion where you have a thumbnail of another person's blog on your blog. It's higher profile than a simple link, and if your viewers have common interests, in can lead to a fair amount of traffic.

And if you haven't tried BlogExplosion yet, you should give it a try, it's fun and definitely leads to increased traffic. I hope you enjoy Rob's blog!


Posted by Scottage at 2:01 PM / | |  

Vigilante Prostitutes: Hookers Take Back the Daytona Streets

Daytona Beach is facing a serial killer. And a new criminal calls for new crime fighters. Only these heroines wear a rather, er unconventional costume:

"Rather than run from the man police labeled a serial killer, streetwalkers here in Daytona Beach along Ridgewood Avenue say they are seeking the serial killer out," Local 6 reported Tarik Minor said. "They believe the man responsible for murdering three women here is someone they have come in contact with."

Well that sounds like a good idea! Now believe me, I have no objection to the world’s oldest profession. But you’re going to allow people already living on the wrong side of the law to enforce justice in the society?

"We will get him first," streetwalker Tonya Richardson said. "Yeah, we are going to get him first. When we find him, he is going to be sorry. It is as simple as that." Richardson said she and other women are carrying weapons on the streets after Laquetta Gunther, Julie Green and Iwana Patton were found dead in the city. "I carry a switch blade with me now," Richardson said. "Everyone else does now too."

So far, I have seen nothing in the reports that indicate the victims are prostitutes. This means you have a group of criminals who are hunting another criminal while the police turn a blind eye. If you ask me, this is a clear recipe for disaster. Don’t be surprised if the angry mob turn out to be scarier than the criminal their trying to root out.

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Posted by Scottage at 3:06 AM / | |  

Fear Survey

This meme-style survey was posted on Snipes, Logomancy & So So Psychosis. Perhaps because of the Greatest Danger posts, it really hit home to me, so I decided to answer it, and encourage others to answer on their sites as well. If you do answer, please reply here so I can go look at your answers. I’m interested. In the mean time, here are my responses to the Fear Survey.

When you were a child, what do you remember being most afraid of? How did you overcome your fear? Did you ever overcome it?
You know, I’m not sure any specific fear stands out from when I was a kid, except maybe the fear of making a mistake, of messing up. I became a perfectionist at an early age, and would get pretty embarrassed at the slightest goof. And I think that some of that still exists with me today.

What are your biggest fears now? Tell us how they manifest themselves...
My biggest fear is the growing divide between the West and the Middle East. It manifests itself in a constant thirst for knowledge, and a desire to understand the conflict from all issues, as well as to help others understand it better, because I think that, with our own government being part of the problem (no offense Bush supporters), the only hope lies in the citizens of both sides, and communication between them.

Are you afraid of terrorism? Tell us when and where you are afraid, how, etc...
I’m not that afraid of terrorism. I’ve lived through it in the past, and I guess I’ve come to realize that terrorism is a symptom of a greater issue, and these issues deserve my fear.

Please write a brief reaction to these quotes:
"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself"
I don’t think the only thing to fear is fear itself, but I think that fear needs to be feared. Look at what it causes us to do: it causes us to compromise our beliefs, values, and goals. It undermines the very pillars of what makes our society great, the freedoms and rights. Fear is a major fear indeed. It just so happens there are more major fears as well in the world today.

"There would be no one to frighten you if you refused to be afraid."
There are definitely things to be afraid of, and turning a blind eye to these issues would indeed be both naïve and dangerous. If we truly refuse to be afraid, there are many issues that could lead towards annihilation in the long run. Iran, perhaps?

"Anyone who trades liberty for security deserves neither liberty nor security"
Absolutely! If we compromise our liberties, our society ceases to be worth fighting for. We need to secure our borders, definitely, but not at the cost of our liberties. Otherwise, we’ll save our society only for it to collapse when other threats are eliminated.

"You must trust and believe in people or life becomes impossible."
Yeah, I sort of believe that. It’s true that I’ve been burnt a ton of times for being too trusting, but I wouldn’t trade those times, because only by trusting people have I had some of the amazing experiences I’ve had. You have to take a risk, and that means trusting.

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Posted by Scottage at 2:39 AM / | |  

Really Cool Site: Political Cortex

Looking for a very cool site where you can publish some of your best work and see what others think about it? If you’re like me and publish political posts, you should take a look at Political Cortex.

Political Cortex is a web site I found the other day where anyone is welcome to join and post their articles. Upon publishing the article, other members of the Cortex look over your site, and make suggestions for editing to improve your post. After the editing queue, the post moves to the voting queue, where people basically give your post a thumbs up or thumbs down. Every post gets published on the site, but only the posts that get enough thumbs up get the most visible positions on the cortex.

Once your post has earned its spot on the cortex, anyone can view it. You can link back to your site as well, but this really isn’t meant to drive traffic to your site, but rather to draw attention to your posts. I’ve read a bunch of good articles on the cortex, and published one, which made it on to their front page. It was exciting. And now I’m hooked. So if you’re looking for a place to publish your political posts, try the Political Cortex. Or, if you have other sites like this that I should check out, let me know so I can check them out as well.

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Posted by Scottage at 1:39 AM / | |  

Doom and Gloom Tuesday, Global Warming Style

It appears that various environmental agencies are combining efforts to release important stories on the growing threat of Global Warming simultaneously, in an apparent effort to raise public awareness of global warming. While obviously avoiding the scare tactics associated with our government, they do allude to the pending disaster that faces us if we don’t do something to reduce the emissions created from the burning of fossil fuels. And while it encourages me that the environmental community is appears to be coordinating efforts to push this emergent issue into the public eye, I can’t help but notice that their efforts to date have been less than successful.

Reuters covered a report from the World Meteorological Organization, called the “Greenhouse Gas Bulletin” that is meant to be an annual publication documenting the progression of Global Warming. The report documented conditions in 2004, and was pretty bleak. It indicated that greenhouse gases reached new highs in 2004, and were expected to reach new highs again in next years Greenhouse Gas Bulletin.

"Global observations coordinated by WMO show that levels of carbon dioxide, the most abundant greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, continue to increase steadily and show no signs of leveling off," said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud.

Carbon dioxide, which the WMO says accounts for 90 percent of warming over the past decade, is largely generated by human activity involving the burning of fossil fuels -- including in industry, transport and domestic heating.

Scientists warn emissions must be slowed and reduced if the earth is to avoid climatic havoc with devastating heat waves, droughts, floods and rising sea-levels sinking low-lying island states and hitting seaboard cities like New York and London.

The second article in the Independent deals with Artic sea ice failing to reform. Regular readers of my blog may remember my Adopt a Glacier post, which dealt with the rapid melting of the Greenland glaciers, and the perils this posed for the Northern hemisphere. Well, the inability of sea ice to reform is devastating, because this sea ice is what is necessary to prevent further deterioration of these glaciers. Thus, the result of the melting sea ice is even more rapid melting of these glaciers, additional dumping of fresh water into the Atlantic, and more tumultuous weather shifts.

Although sea levels are not affected by melting sea ice - which floats on the ocean -the Arctic ice cover is thought to be a key moderator of the northern hemisphere's climate. It helps to stabilise the massive land glaciers and ice sheets of Greenland which have the capacity to raise sea levels dramatically.

"The sea ice cover waxes and wanes with the seasons. It partly melts in spring and summer, then grows back in autumn and winter. It has not recovered well this past winter - ice extent for every month since September 2005 has been far below average. And it's been so warm in the Arctic that the ice that has grown this winter is probably rather thin," Dr Mark Serreze, a sea ice specialist at the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Colorado, said.

But wait, it’s even a bit worse than that. The normal cycle is, as one might expect, that the arctic sea ice recedes during the summer time, and is replenished during the winter. And the article at first seems to indicate that the replenishment in the winter time is not enough to cover the melting during the summer. But in actuality, the case is that the arctic sea ice is receding both in summer and winter time, which would tend to indicate that the reductions will be massive and rapid.

Scientists are now convinced that Arctic sea ice is showing signs of both a winter and a summer decline that could indicate a major acceleration in its long-term rate of disappearance. The greatest fear is that an environmental "positive feedback" has kicked in, where global warming melts ice which in itself causes the seas to warm still further as more sunlight is absorbed by a dark ocean rather than being reflected by white ice.

Not exactly encouraging, huh? Well, we’re not done. Because News-Press reports that, at least in Florida, we are less prepared for major hurricanes, one of the potential effects of fresh water dumping into the Atlantic, because of the rapid development of the Florida coast line.

"How we have built along the coast is coming back to haunt us now," said Lyons, the tropical weather expert for The Weather Channel, noting that seven of the 10 costliest tropical cyclones in the United States happened in 2004 and 2005.

"That's not any global climate signal there," he said. "That's coastal vulnerability."

So you would expect that, with at least two, maybe three, very important pieces on advance of Global Warming, you would see these articles reprinted on every news service. Well, we won’t see these articles on CNN Online, who picked up none of them. We won’t see them on the online versions of Google News, CBS News, Fox News, BBC News, Knight Ridder, Yahoo News, NewsMax America, and MSNBC. ABC picked up the first piece, but it didn’t make their front page; it was in their science section.

And since no one picked up the articles, nobody seemed to notice. Take a look at Technorati and Google Blog Search only show a handful of posts on the articles. And meanwhile you look at the poll on my site and there’s no question that people see the danger inherent in Global Warming, as 13.6% said it was the greatest danger facing the Western world today. So does it not get coverage because Global Warming isn’t sexy enough? I have no idea, but it seems apparent to me that our environmental agencies will have to work harder to get these articles recognized by both the news agencies and the public at large.

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Posted by Scottage at 12:58 AM / | |  

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Poll Closed: Greatest Danger to the West

I have decided to close the poll on the Greatest Dangers to the Western World. I was amazed to receive a whopping 129 votes, and wanted to thank everyone who contributed.

The winner, with 25 votes (19.4%) was the Divide between Islam and the West, which also happened to be my choice. But perhaps the most surprising response was the 19 people who voted other! Go to this post to see some of those “Other” suggestions, of which there were really some brilliant ideas! Other top vote getters were Global Warming, Dependence on Oil, Dilution of Freedom, and Terrorism.

Perhaps equally surprising was the lack of responses for the Pakistan/India conflict (1 vote), The Israel/Palestine Conflict (4 Votes), and Nuclear North Korea (6 votes). I wasn’t surprised to see Russia’s Insecure Weapons get so few votes (4 votes), and I suspect Iran and Ahmadinejad got so few votes because that conflict may be synonymous with the Conflict between Islam and the West. Overpopulation gained 8 votes, but a lot of people mentioned it as roots for these other conflicts.

I found this poll very educational, and it traditionally challenged me to defend and rethink my own views on the greatest dangers we face today. It also emphasized just how dangerous the world has become today. I can think of no more dangerous period in our recent history, and I wonder what other dangers are just over the horizon.

That being said, it’s time for a new poll, but I’m not sure what that poll should be. My first thought is a poll on the most dangerous period in either modern history or in history in general. But I just did finish with one somewhat gloomy poll, and I would hate to be seen as negative. So I thought I should open it up to you!

Next week I am going to put a new poll on the blog. Tell me what that poll should be about. You can vote for the poll mentioned above, on the most dangerous period in history, you can even vote to redo the last poll with the inclusion of some of the key topics listed in the “other” section but some readers of this blog. Or you can come up with your own suggestion. But you will decide what the next poll is, so that we can all vote on it.

Whoever picks the best poll will receive 250 BE credits, 2nd place will receive 100 credits, 3rd place gets 50. And whether or not you’re a BE member, I completely appreciate your assistance on finding the next poll for our site.

Last note: what’s a poll without a hostess to reveal the answers? So, without further ado, Ms. Vanna White! Thanks again for the help!

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Posted by Scottage at 12:04 PM / | |  

10,000th Site Visit!

I am very pleased to announce that, as of today, I have surpassed the 10,000 visitor mark. And I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who has helped make that possible: you guys, the viewers!

I began writing my blog on December 19th, 2005, so just under 3 months ago, out of frustration over the United States’ handling of the Hurricane Katrina disaster, and this will be my 207th post. My goal was to write some quality material that would make people think, and hopefully gets a good dialogue going that my viewers and I would learn from. I started to accomplish this goal in February, as volume really picked up at that time, and I began to get 4-digit weekly hits.

So what lead to this increase in traffic in February? Well, for starters, I found a topic I really liked, and I wrote about it consistently. I was interested in the Mohammed cartoon protests, and read everything I could on them, not only from the news but from other bloggers. I tried to make sure my posts had some original perspectives, but that they also examine other people’s points of view and the strengths and weaknesses of their arguments. I sited people with original thoughts, and commented on their posts as well.

Now it seemed like everybody and their grandmothers were writing on the protests, but the more I wrote, the more people came to my site to view my posts. I was one of the first to write on the cartoons, after a small protest in January, and I tried to stay on top of the news cycle and ahead of other bloggers when I had the time, so that when other bloggers were going to write on a news article, they often found my post and sited it in their post. And slowly, I started finding my rankings on searches related to the cartoons

In mid February I read a timely post by AbbaGav on how he had made it through his first year of blogging, and if you’re trying to make it through the initial stages of your blog, it’s a real help. Of particular importance were the Technorati tags, Carnivals, and the emphasis on reading and responding to other people’s posts. The last is especially important; I know, it takes time to write your posts, but other people put time into their posts as well, so give them a bit of time back, and comment!

There are a lot of things that helped me, and that could help you too, things like article submission sites, regular posting (and times for the posting), a clear and distinctive look and feel, and regular pings, but really each of you has a success story, right? Otherwise you would have given up on your blog long ago. So tell people here what is your secret is, what really helps you drive traffic. I’ll give people BE credits for their comments, but more than that, you’ll have the gratitude of the people who read your comments and learn from them.

And regardless of whether you comment here or not, you have my gratitude, for helping to build up my site, and for making the comments and writing the posts that have challenged me to develop my own ideas. If you get a chance, click on a couple of the blogrolling links to reward these great bloggers. And keep writing!

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Posted by Scottage at 2:59 AM / | |  

Monday, March 13, 2006

Sopranos Season Opener Blew Me Away

If you haven’t seen the opener yet and you’re intending to, you probably shouldn’t read any farther, because I’m going to give away the ending. And if you haven’t seen the season opener yet and you aren’t intending to, what is wrong with you? I mean, WOWOWOW. My gf, who has never seen the show, asked me why it’s been so long between seasons, and I couldn’t answer her. But I’ll tell you what, it was well worth the wait.

The episode started slow, and built up, and up, until I was on the edge of my seat with my knuckles turning white. As the subplot developed where Tony’s soldier (I didn’t catch his name, I’ll catch it when I re-watch the show) wanted to move to Florida after a large inheritance, I knew it was going to become an issue, and probably lead to the soldier being killed. I never suspected he was an informant, and was floored when he committed suicide. My jaw similarly dropped when Tony Leotardo beat up Hesh and his nephew, and I followed my jaw when the other informant died in the FBI agent’s car.

But this was nothing compared with my shock at seeing Tony get shot by Junior. Of course, they set it up with all that talk of assisted living, making it that Tony had really created his own destiny. But watching Junior, in his state of Alzheimer-related confusion, continually ask who is at home (after sitting with together with Tony not a minute before), and then finally come down stairs and shoot Tony was just too surreal. And then Tony pulling himself to the phone and accidentally pulling it out of the wall that was just brilliant. I don’t know if Tony is alive or dead, but wow, what a way to start the show.

Add in Meadow dancing for Phin in her underwear, Aidrian haunting Carmella’s nightmares, Janice and Bobby having a baby (while Bobby has become a railroad man), Johnny Sak in jail, AJ growing up and getting more attitude, Chris taking to his new roll, an awesome mafia hit in Boston….really really good stuff! I gotta say, I’m psyched for next week.

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Posted by Scottage at 3:01 AM / | |  

1st Contest Winner

I am pleased to announce that we have a winner in the first Nomadic contest! Congratulations to Percy of More Dark Lanes who won 250 credits for his vote that the greatest danger facing the Western World will be Overpopulation. Check out his blog, he writes well.

The poll has gotten excellent response, with 127 votes to date. So far the most votes have been received by the category “The Divide between Islam and the West”, which has received nearly 20% of the votes. More surprising is that the second most votes were received by the “other” category, which has received 18 votes, and many of the “other” responses were reproduced in a post last week. Other popular choices are “Global Warming”, “Dependence on Oil”, “Dilution of Freedom”, and “Terrorism”

I am going to leave the poll up, and reproduce it in a couple other areas. I will actually recreate it some time in the next couple days with the additional categories mentioned and the votes they received, and I will award another 250 BlogExchange credits in a raffle format next week. Additionally, I am setting aside 500 credits to distribute for the best comments made on my site throughout the week. I’ll give some credits each day I get a good comment, so let me hear your thoughts. I look forward to hearing from you.

Finally, my site is about to have its 10,000th visitor. Be the first person to email me once my counter turns over, and I’ll give you 250 credits for that as well. So participate at Perspectives of a Nomad, and let me help drive some traffic your way to thank you.

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Posted by Scottage at 2:30 AM / | |  

Sunday, March 12, 2006


This post will remain at the top of my blog until Sunday night, March 12th at 11:59, when the contest ends. Please scroll down for the latest post.

Hey all! If you are like me, you are an avid user of BlogExplosion, BlogMad, or BlogClicker. Well, for those of you who are, I have a contest for you! I will have a lottery one week from today, and the winner will receive 250 credits on their choice of any of those three sites!

The rules are simple. First, vote in the poll on right hand side of the screen, telling me which danger you think is the greatest to the Western World. Then, sign in as a comment here. I will use a randomizing program to pick one person from that list to receive 250 credits, it's that easy.

If you don't vote, I'll know, so make sure you participate in the poll. And if you're not part of one of these traffic exchanges, join up, it's fun and willpromote your blog. And make sure you include either your blog or email address, so I can contact you if you win. Plus, feel free to scroll down and see the latest post to the 10 Greatest Dangers to the Western World series, Terrorism: The Danger Within Other Dangers.

I'll also post an image and link of the winner here on Sunday. So thank you for taking part in the poll, and good luck in the contest.

Join Blog Mad

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Posted by Scottage at 11:59 PM / | |  

Bush Chooses Interests of the Carlyle Group over Interests of the Country

OK, this is way too important, so I’m going to try to rush in one post before crashing. Bush fans will hate this post, but it is important, so do your own research.

Two weeks ago I wrote a piece on the potential connection between the UEA ports deal and the Carlyle group, a group with strong ties to the Bush family and various bit-money men around the world. Now, one day after the ports deal has collapsed, more data is being produced that confirm these ties, and they lead us to some very scary questions about our commander in chief.

What is the Carlyle Group? The Carlyle Group was founded in 1987 and is named after the Carlyle hotel, where they first met. The current chairman is Lou Gerstner, Former Chairman and CEO of IBM, and its members include George Bush (both senior and junior), James Baker, Frank Carlucci, Tony Blair, Colin Powell, John Major, Alice Albright, Arthur Levitt, and members of the Bin Laden family, to name a few.

The Carlyle Group’s offices are on Pennsylvania Avenue in DC, exactly equidistant from the White House and Capital Building, and pretty close to FBI and CIA Headquarters. The firm is worth app. $13.5B, and has acquired a bad reputation to accompany all that money:

In running what its own marketing literature spookily calls "a vast, interlocking, global network of businesses and investment professionals" that operates within the so-called iron triangle of industry, government, and the military, the Carlyle Group leaves itself open to any number of conflicts of interest and stunning ironies. For example, it is hard to ignore the fact that Osama bin Laden's family members, who renounced their son ten years ago, stood to gain financially from the war being waged against him until late October, when public criticism of the relationship forced them to liquidate their holdings in the firm.

Where do these “stunning ironies” come from? Perhaps it comes from the arenas that the Carlyle Group works in. The Carlyle Group is best known for its work in Areospace and Defense, Enegry and Power, and transportation. They have strong ties to the healthcare and telecommonications industries. They have investments on every continent, and huge investments in the Middle East.

The Carlyle Group has benefited tremendously from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as a tremondous amount of contracting has gone out to group members. James Baker, Carlyle Group Member and former Secretary of State under Bush Sr., has been appointed as the envoy to help work out Iraq’s debt, has attempted to secure a $1B investment for the Carlyle Group from Kuwait towards a program to help rebuild Iraq’s economy.

And it was Baker who negotiated the Port deal. Baker’s new law firm, Baker Bots, actually opened up an office in Dubai last year, even though they already had an office in Riyadh. And Baker Botts was responsible for the negotiations of the purchase and sale of CSX World Terminals. In 2003, The Carlyle Group, represented by Baker, purchased CSX for $300M. Two years later the company was in disarray, and earnings were significantly down. However, Baker resold the firm to DP for $1.12B.

Anacher Forester asks what DP really received to make CSX worth so much money, and you know, promise of a $7.8B port deal would certainly be a fitting answer. If that was the case, has Carlyle renigged on it’s side of the deal by not delivering the Port Deal? Well, they certainly tried hard enough to save the deal, as we now know that when DP World promised to transfer control of the ports to an American based company, they were talking about The Carlyle Group.

And more information is coming out, such that Dubai International Capital, who has a major stake in Dubai World, is not only owned by the UAE but, you guessed it, The Carlyle Group. Initial estimates say the group itself stood to earn $108M from the deal, but members of the group would earn the lions share of the over $7B deal. And finally, we heard the first allegations that the Bush administration, after hearing about stories linking the UAE and Carlyle earlier this week, asked the reporters to hold off on reporting ties between the deal and Carlyle until this weekend.

You know, I always thought that taking an office like President of the United States is supposed to be a proviledge, and that the people who take that role are supposed to put the welfare and security of the country before personal gain. But the more we look at The Carlyle Group’s role in the Port Deal, the Bush family’s ties to The Carlyle Group, and Bush’s stauch backing of the deal, the more we have to question if Bush’s more concerned with the welfare of the country or keeping his family off welfare.

Here’s a clue, George: you’re not at risk, you’re family’s fine, fight for the people you’re supposed to represent!

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Posted by Scottage at 2:23 AM / | |