Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sempo


Yukiko and Chiune Sugihara


L.A. Memorial

It was discovered in the year 2000 although it's namesake was born exactly 100 years earlier.
It floats through the vacuum of space between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars, in the main asteroid belt, a little more than 3 1/4 Astronomical Units (AU) from the Earth (1 AU equals the distance between the Earth and the Sun, approximately 93 million miles) at times, sometimes closer, sometimes further away.
It is of course an asteroid, essentially a piece of space rock, and was discovered by William Kwong Yu Yeung (Bill), at the Desert Beaver Observatory, in Eloy, Arizona, which is the sky diving capital of the world. Fool hardy people just love to jump out of airplanes above Eloy. I don't know why (Eloy is also famous for being the home of a privately owned prison, the Saguaro Correctional Center, which houses the majority of the State of Hawaii's male prison inmates). The asteroid Mr. Yeung discovered on November 19th, 2000 at first was designated 2000 WR9 after it's orbit had been calculated (2000 being the year it was discovered, W designating the half year it was discovered, for instance A designates the half month from January 1st to the 16th, B from January 16th to the end of the month, and so on. The letter "I" is not used. I don't know why. No one does. Accordingly W designates the second half of November. The R in the name designates the order of discovery within that half month, R equaling 17, meaning there were 16 asteroids discovered before this one in the second half of November in 2000 ("I" again not being used). This would be true if the pesky "9" wasn't at the end, which means that since there are so many people in the world with too much time on their hands due to being unemployed because of the Republican financial crisis, too many asteroids are being discovered, the "9" representing how many times that "R" scale has been recycled, in other words, in this case the "R" instead of representing the 17th asteroid discovered in the second half of November in 2000, the "9" means the scale needs to repeated nine times, meaning this asteroid is actually the 217th, or thereabouts which was discovered in the second half of November in 2000. Wheeew! I'm glad we got that cleared up).
The actual discoverer of an asteroid may name it, which is then approved by the International Astronomical Union, if the name is not frivolous.
The name Mr. Yeung chose was "Sugihara." The whole name of this asteroid then is 25893 Sugihara (2000 WR9). (I have no idea what the prefix "25893" designates, because quite frankly no one will tell me, and I'm now sick of thinking about it)
My lovely ex-case manager, Erin, and I used to have breakfasts at various restaurants on Tuesday mornings around town close by. One of the places we used to frequent was a Starbucks on Central just north of 2nd street, in the Little Tokyo district of downtown Los Angeles. We would eat these little biscuit breakfast sandwiches with breakfast meats inside them and egg and cheese, and drink breakfast drinks like coffee.
Right outside of that Starbucks is a memorial in the form of a black statue of a man seated on a bench, holding up a little book in his statue hand. One of the pictures above is of that memorial. You can see in that picture a lady seated in the upper left corner, that's where the Starbucks is.
This memorial is dedicated to a Sugihara, the very same Sugihara that the asteroid was named after. Imagine that.
That man had a first name too. It was Chiune.
Chiune Sugihara.
Who was this man... this man who warrants a celestial object named after him, and his very own Starbucks statue?
He was a Japanese diplomat, that's who. And not a very important one at that. He wasn't an ambassador or anything. He was a vice-consul of the Japanese Consulate in Kaunas, Lithuania. He came there in 1939.
I hadn't heard of him either until last Sunday morning after the weekly service at the Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple on 3rd Street and Central. Bishop Noriaki Ito told us all about him in the talk we have after the service (in English. There's another talk going on in Japanese, but I don't go to that one). It would appear that besides being a mid-level diplomat, Mr. Sugihara was one of the most amazing heros and humanitarians of the World War II era.
He was born on the first day of the year 1900, in the town of Yaotsu, located in the center of the main Japanese island of Honshu, the second eldest son of a middle class physician father and a samurai class mother. He graduated high school with top honors. His father wanted him to follow his footsteps and become a doctor, but the boy always wanted to study literature and travel, and so first revealed a somewhat independent, rebellious nature. Upon taking the entrance exam to medical school he purposely flunked the test by just signing his name.
Instead he entered Waseda University in Tokyo and studied English, while working several part time jobs. The Foreign Ministry was looking for students who wanted to study abroad and pursue a career in the Diplomatic Corps. The idea appealed to 19 year old Chiune who applied and was accepted to Harbin Gakuin University in Manchuria, where he studied the Russian language. He graduated with honors when he was 24.
He began working in the Manchurian government which was controlled by Japan at the time. He helped in negotiations with the Soviet Union over the Northern Manchurian Railroad, and converted to Orthodox Christianity as Pavlo Sergeivich Sugihara and married a Russian woman.
They divorced in 1935, before he returned to Japan after protesting the Japanese cruel treatment toward the Chinese.
Back in Japan he married Yukiko Kikuchi, with whom he remained married until his death in 1986, and had four sons.
In 1938 Mr. Sugihara served in the Information Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a translator for the Japanese legation in Helsinki, Finland. The next year he was transfered to Kaunas, Lithuania, the second largest city of that Baltic country. He was to open a Consulate there.
In September of 1939 World War II began in Europe with Germany's invasion of Poland. Jewish refugees flooded into Lithuania fleeing from the Germans and the atrocities perpetrated upon the Polish Jews. They had little or no money or possessions, but were desperate to escape from the advancing Nazis. Their only escape route was to the east, however, the Soviets only allowed Jews to pass through Russia if they had a transit visa – and so, obtaining a Japanese visa became a matter of life and death.
In June 1940, the Soviet Union occupied and annexed Lithuania. During this time Sugihara decided to facilitate their escape from war-torn Europe. In the absence of clear instructions from Tokyo, he granted 10-day visas on his own initiative for transit through Japan to hundreds of refugees who held Curacao destination visas. Before closing his consulate in the fall of 1940, Sugihara even gave visas to refugees who lacked all travel papers.
Mr. Sugihara asked the refugees to call him “Sempo,” the sound reading of a Chinese character, as it was much easier for Western people to pronounce. Sempo was not his middle name, as Japanese names do not have middle names.
After he had issued some 1,800 visas, he received a cable from Tokyo reminding him: "You must make sure that they [refugees] have finished their procedure for their entry visas and also they must possess the travel money or the money that they need during their stay in Japan. Otherwise, you should not give them the transit visa."
In his response to the cable, Sugihara admitted he was not exactly following prescribed instructions, explaining the extenuating circumstances. Japan was the only transit country available for those going in the direction of the United States, and his visas were needed for departure from the Soviet Union. He suggested that travelers who arrived in the Soviet port of Vladivostok with incomplete paperwork should not be allowed to board ships for Japan. Tokyo wrote back that the Soviet Union insisted that Japan honor all visas already issued by its consulates.
"Given his inferior post and the culture of the Japanese Foreign Service bureaucracy, this was an extraordinary act of disobedience. He spoke to Soviet officials who agreed to let the Jews travel through the country via the Trans-Siberian Railway at five times the standard ticket price.
Sugihara continued to hand write visas, reportedly spending 18–20 hours a day on them, producing a normal month's worth of visas each day, until September 4, when he had to leave his post before the consulate was closed. By that time he had granted thousands of visas to Jews, many of whom were heads of households and thus permitted to take their families with them. On the night before their scheduled departure, Sugihara and his wife stayed awake writing out visa approvals. According to witnesses, he was still writing visas while in transit from his hotel and after boarding the train at the Kaunas Railway Station, throwing visas into the crowd of desperate refugees out of the train's window even as the train pulled out.
In final desperation, blank sheets of paper with only the consulate seal and his signature (that could be later written over into a visa) were hurriedly prepared and flung out from the train. As he prepared to depart, he said, 'please forgive me. I cannot write anymore. I wish you the best.' When he bowed deeply to the people before him, someone exclaimed, 'Sugihara. We’ll never forget you. I’ll surely see you again!'" -Wikipedia
In June of 1941 Nazi Germany betrayed the Soviet Union and attacked it, invading Soviet held Lithuania in doing so. Some of the Jews who had received Sugihara visas failed to leave Lithuania in time, and were later captured by the Germans, and perished in the Holocaust. The Nazis and their Lithuanian collaborators murdered around 190,000 Lithuanian Jews (91% of the pre-war Jewish community) during the Holocaust.
It is estimated that Chiune Sugihara issued visas for about 6,000 Jews, many of which were family visas which allowed more than one person to travel on it. The Simon Wiesenthal Center has stated that around 40,000 descendants of the Jewish refugees are alive today because of his actions. Some have estimated the figure to be as high as 80,000.
Sugihara was able to continue his diplomatic service to Japan by serving as the Consul General In Prague, Czechoslovakia, from March 1941 to late 1942, and in Königsberg, East Prussia and in the legation in Bucharest, Romania from 1942 to 1944. When Soviet troops entered Romania, they imprisoned Sugihara and his family in a POW camp for eighteen months. I don't know why. They were released in 1946 and returned to Japan through the Soviet Union. In 1947, the Japanese foreign office asked him to resign, due to down-sizing they said. Some sources, including his wife, have said that the Foreign Ministry told Sugihara he was dismissed because of "that incident" in Lithuania.
To support his family he took a series of menial jobs, at one point selling light bulbs door to door. He eventually returned to Russia, Moscow specifically, to accept a managerial position with a Japanese trading company. Sugihara worked there for over 15 years in complete obscurity, visiting his family in Japan only once or twice a year.
After the war, many of those who had been issued visas from Sugihara tried to trace him, seeking information at the Japanese Foreign Ministry, to no avail. The Japanese Government refused to cooperate; no one seemed to remember or recognize him or his name.
Chiune never mentioned his wartime deeds to anyone, and the world knew little of him until almost 30 years later, in 1968, when he was located by Joshua Nishri, the Economic Attache to the Israeli Embassy in Tokyo and one of his survivors. This was a significant event for him as for all of this time he had had no word, and did not know if any if the visas he had issued so long ago had actually worked and had helped the Jews as he had intended.
As we've mentioned the visas had worked and did help those Jews he had intended to help, thousands of them. That knowledge was joyous to Sugihara, and he was overcome with satisfaction and happiness. He felt no regrets for his actions. He felt even if only one life had been saved all of his hardship would have been worth it. Indeed, at his memorial in Los Angeles, a quote from the Talmud is carved on the nearby stone: "He who saves one life, saves the entire world."
The next year, Sugihara visited Israel and was greeted by the Israeli Government, which included another one of his survivors: Zerach Warheftig, the Israeli Minister of Religion.
In 1985 after gathering testimonials from all over the world, Sugihara was granted Israel`s highest honor. He was awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations by Israel`s Holocaust Memorial, Yad Vashem, in Jerusalem. Later that year, a monument was erected on a hill in Jerusalem, a cedar grove was planted in Sugihara’s name at Yad Vashem, and a park in Jerusalem was named in his honor. Sugihara and his descendants were given an everlasting Israeli citizenship. His son Nobuki graduated from the Hebrew University, speaking Hebrew fluently.
That same year, 45 years after the Soviet invasion of Lithuania, he was asked his reasons for issuing visas to the Jews. Sugihara explained that the refugees were human beings, and that they simply needed help.
“You want to know about my motivation, don't you? Well. It is the kind of sentiments anyone would have when he actually sees refugees face to face, begging with tears in their eyes. He just cannot help but sympathize with them. Among the refugees were the elderly and women. They were so desperate that they went so far as to kiss my shoes, Yes, I actually witnessed such scenes with my own eyes. Also, I felt at that time, that the Japanese government did not have any uniform opinion in Tokyo. Some Japanese military leaders were just scared because of the pressure from the Nazis; while other officials in the Home Ministry were simply ambivalent.
People in Tokyo were not united. I felt it silly to deal with them. So, I made up my mind not to wait for their reply. I knew that somebody would surely complain about me in the future. But, I myself thought this would be the right thing to do. There is nothing wrong in saving many people's lives....The spirit of humanity, philanthropy...neighborly friendship...with this spirit, I ventured to do what I did, confronting this most difficult situation—and because of this reason, I went ahead with redoubled courage."
Chiune Sugihara died the following year, on July 31, 1986. In spite of all the publicity given to him in Israel and other nations he remained virtually unknown in his home country. It was only when a large international Jewish delegation attended his funeral that his own people discovered his extraordinary altruistic deeds.
He was posthumously awarded the Commander's Cross with Star of the Order of Polonia Restituta in 2007, and the Commander's Cross Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland by the President of Poland in 1996. Also, in 1993, the Life Saving Cross of Lithuania, all posthumously.
He has his own asteroid too.
In 2005 PBS produced a 90 minute documentary, "Sugihara: Conspiracy of Kindness." which "tells the remarkable story of Chiune Sugihara and the Jewish refugees that he helped to save." It can be purchased through Amazon here:
http://www.amazon.com/Sugihara-Conspiracy-Kindness-Susan-Bluman/dp/B0009OUC78

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The American Decline


Dr. Chomsky

Noam Chomsky is an Institute Professor and Professor (Emeritus) in the Department of Linguistics & Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He's been described as an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, and activist. I'd have to add author and historian to that impressive list.
I've read several of Dr. Chomsky's books and I do have to admit they tend to be very hard to get through as his style of writing is not particularly engaging. However, they are exceptionally informative and innovative. He tends to delve where few have gone before, at least few that I'm aware of, and transcends political propaganda that is used to mask the motives and misdeeds of the political systems in power.
Below I present an article of his that appeared recently in Reader Supported News. I present it for your consideration, dear readers. I posit there is a huge amount of truth, whether we like it or not, within.
You make up your own minds


American Decline: Causes and Consequences
by Noam Chomsky, 26 August 2011

In the 2011 summer issue of the journal of the American Academy of Political Science, we read that it is "a common theme" that the United States, which "only a few years ago was hailed to stride the world as a colossus with unparalleled power and unmatched appeal - is in decline, ominously facing the prospect of its final decay." It is indeed a common theme, widely believed, and with some reason. But an appraisal of US foreign policy and influence abroad and the strength of its domestic economy and political institutions at home suggests that a number of qualifications are in order. To begin with, the decline has in fact been proceeding since the high point of US power shortly after World War II, and the remarkable rhetoric of the several years of triumphalism in the 1990s was mostly self-delusion. Furthermore, the commonly drawn corollary - that power will shift to China and India - is highly dubious. They are poor countries with severe internal problems. The world is surely becoming more diverse, but despite America's decline, in the foreseeable future there is no competitor for global hegemonic power.

To review briefly some of the relevant history: During World War II, US planners recognized that the US would emerge from the war in a position of overwhelming power. It is quite clear from the documentary record that "President Roosevelt was aiming at United States hegemony in the postwar world," to quote the assessment of diplomatic historian Geoffrey Warner. Plans were developed to control what was called a Grand Area, a region encompassing the Western Hemisphere, the Far East, the former British empire - including the crucial Middle East oil reserves - and as much of Eurasia as possible, or at the very least its core industrial regions in Western Europe and the southern European states. The latter were regarded as essential for ensuring control of Middle East energy resources. Within these expansive domains, the US was to maintain "unquestioned power" with "military and economic supremacy," while ensuring the "limitation of any exercise of sovereignty" by states that might interfere with its global designs. The doctrines still prevail, though their reach has declined.

Wartime plans, soon to be carefully implemented, were not unrealistic. The US had long been by far the richest country in the world. The war ended the Depression and US industrial capacity almost quadrupled, while rivals were decimated. At the war's end, the US had half the world's wealth and unmatched security. Each region of the Grand Area was assigned its 'function' within the global system. The ensuing 'Cold War' consisted largely of efforts by the two superpowers to enforce order on their own domains: for the USSR, Eastern Europe; for the US, most of the world. By 1949, the Grand Area was already seriously eroding with "the loss of China," as it is routinely called. The phrase is interesting: one can only 'lose' what one possesses. Shortly after, Southeast Asia began to fall out of control, leading to Washington's horrendous Indochina wars and the huge massacres in Indonesia in 1965 as US dominance was restored. Meanwhile, subversion and massive violence continued elsewhere in the effort to maintain what is called 'stability,' meaning conformity to US demands.

But decline was inevitable, as the industrial world reconstructed and decolonization pursued its agonizing course. By 1970, US share of world wealth had declined to about 25%, still colossal but sharply reduced. The industrial world was becoming 'tripolar,' with major centers in the US, Europe, and Asia - then Japan-centered - already becoming the most dynamic region.

Twenty years later the USSR collapsed. Washington's reaction teaches us a good deal about the reality of the Cold War. The Bush I administration, then in office, immediately declared that policies would remain pretty much unchanged, but under different pretexts. The huge military establishment would be maintained, but not for defense against the Russians; rather, to confront the "technological sophistication" of third world powers. Similarly, they reasoned, it would be necessary to maintain "the defense industrial base," a euphemism for advanced industry, highly reliant on government subsidy and initiative. Intervention forces still had to be aimed at the Middle East, where the serious problems "could not be laid at the Kremlin's door," contrary to half a century of deceit. It was quietly conceded that the problems had always been "radical nationalism," that is, attempts by countries to pursue an independent course in violation of Grand Area principles. These policy fundamentals were not modified. The Clinton administration declared that the US has the right to use military force unilaterally to ensure "uninhibited access to key markets, energy supplies, and strategic resources." It also declared that military forces must be "forward deployed" in Europe and Asia "in order to shape people's opinions about us," not by gentle persuasion, and "to shape events that will affect our livelihood and our security." Instead of being reduced or eliminated, as propaganda would have led one to expect, NATO was expanded to the East. This was in violation of verbal pledges to Mikhail Gorbachev when he agreed to allow a unified Germany to join NATO.

Today, NATO has become a global intervention force under US command, with the official task of controlling the international energy system, sea lanes, pipelines, and whatever else the hegemonic power determines.

There was indeed a period of euphoria after the collapse of the superpower enemy, with excited tales about "the end of history" and awed acclaim for Clinton's foreign policy. Prominent intellectuals declared the onset of a "noble phase" with a "saintly glow," as for the first time in history a nation was guided by "altruism" and dedicated to "principles and values;" and nothing stood in the way of the "idealistic New World bent on ending inhumanity," which could at last carry forward unhindered the emerging international norm of humanitarian intervention.

Not all were so enraptured. The traditional victims, the Global South, bitterly condemned "the so-called 'right' of humanitarian intervention," recognizing it to be just the old "right" of imperial domination. More sober voices at home among the policy elite could perceive that for much of the world, the US was "becoming the rogue superpower," considered "the single greatest external threat to their societies," and that "the prime rogue state today is the United States." After Bush Jr. took over, increasingly hostile world opinion could scarcely be ignored. In the Arab world particularly, Bush's approval ratings plummeted. Obama has achieved the impressive feat of sinking still lower, down to 5% in Egypt and not much higher elsewhere in the region.

Meanwhile, decline continued. In the past decade, South America has been 'lost.' The 'threat' of losing South America had loomed decades earlier. As the Nixon administration was planning the destruction of Chilean democracy, and the installation of a US-backed Pinochet dictatorship - the National Security Council warned that if the US could not control Latin America, it could not expect "to achieve a successful order elsewhere in the world."

But far more serious would be moves towards independence in the Middle East. Post WWII planning recognized that control of the incomparable energy reserves of the Middle East would yield "substantial control of the world," in the words of the influential Roosevelt advisor A.A. Berle. Correspondingly, that loss of control would threaten the project of global dominance that was clearly articulated during World War II and has been sustained in the face of major changes in world order ever since.

A further danger to US hegemony was the possibility of meaningful moves towards democracy. New York Times executive editor Bill Keller writes movingly of Washington's "yearning to embrace the aspiring democrats across North Africa and the Middle East." But recent polls of Arab opinion reveal very clearly that functioning democracy where public opinion influences policy would be disastrous for Washington. Not surprisingly, the first few steps in Egypt's foreign policy after ousting Mubarak have been strongly opposed by the US and its Israeli client.

While longstanding US policies remain stable, with tactical adjustments, under Obama there have been some significant changes. Military analyst Yochi Dreazen observes in the Atlantic that Bush's policy was to capture (and torture) suspects, while Obama simply assassinates them, with a rapid increase in terror weapons (drones) and the use of Special Forces, many of them assassination teams. Special Forces are scheduled to operate in 120 countries. Now as large as Canada's entire military, these forces are, in effect, a private army of the president, a matter discussed in detail by American investigative journalist Nick Turse on the website Tomdispatch. The team that Obama dispatched to assassinate Osama bin Laden had already carried out perhaps a dozen similar missions in Pakistan.

As these and many other developments illustrate, though America's hegemony has declined, its ambition has not.

Another common theme, at least among those who are not willfully blind, is that American decline is in no small measure self-inflicted. The comic opera in Washington this summer, which disgusts the country (a large majority think that Congress should just be disbanded) and bewilders the world, has few analogues in the annals of parliamentary democracy. The spectacle is even coming to frighten the sponsors of the charade. Corporate power is now concerned that the extremists they helped put in office in Congress may choose to bring down the edifice on which their own wealth and privilege relies, the powerful nanny state that caters to their interests.

The eminent American philosopher John Dewey once described politics as "the shadow cast on society by big business," warning that "attenuation of the shadow will not change the substance." Since the 1970s, the shadow has become a dark cloud enveloping society and the political system. Corporate power, by now largely financial capital, has reached the point that both political organizations, which now barely resemble traditional parties, are far to the right of the population on the major issues under debate.

For the public, the primary domestic concern, rightly, is the severe crisis of unemployment. Under current circumstances, that critical problem can be overcome only by a significant government stimulus, well beyond the recent one, which barely matched decline in state and local spending, though even that limited initiative did probably save millions of jobs. For financial institutions the primary concern is the deficit. Therefore, only the deficit is under discussion. A large majority of the population favor addressing the deficit by taxing the very rich (72% for, 21% opposed). Cutting health programs is opposed by overwhelming majorities (69% Medicaid, 79% Medicare). The likely outcome is therefore the opposite.

Reporting the results of a study of how the public would eliminate the deficit, its director, Steven Kull, writes that "clearly both the administration and the Republican-led House are out of step with the public's values and priorities in regard to the budget…The biggest difference in spending is that the public favored deep cuts in defense spending, while the administration and the House propose modest increases…The public also favored more spending on job training, education, and pollution control than did either the administration or the House."

The costs of the Bush-Obama wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are now estimated to run as high as $4.4 trillion - a major victory for Osama bin Laden, whose announced goal was to bankrupt America by drawing it into a trap. The 2011 military budget - almost matching that of the rest of the world combined - is higher in real terms than at any time since World War II and is slated to go even higher . The deficit crisis is largely manufactured as a weapon to destroy hated social programs on which a large part of the population relies. Economics correspondent Martin Wolf of the London Financial Times writes that "it is not that tackling the US fiscal position is urgent…. The US is able to borrow on easy terms, with yields on 10-year bonds close to 3 percent, as the few non-hysterics predicted. The fiscal challenge is long term, not immediate." Very significantly, he adds: "The astonishing feature of the federal fiscal position is that revenues are forecast to be a mere 14.4 percent of GDP in 2011, far below their postwar average of close to 18 percent. Individual income tax is forecast to be a mere 6.3 percent of GDP in 2011. This non-American cannot understand what the fuss is about: in 1988, at the end of Ronald Reagan's term, receipts were 18.2 percent of GDP. Tax revenue has to rise substantially if the deficit is to close." Astonishing indeed, but it is the demand of the financial institutions and the super-rich, and in a rapidly declining democracy, that's what counts.

Though the deficit crisis is manufactured for reasons of savage class war, the long-term debt crisis is serious, and has been ever since Ronald Reagan's fiscal irresponsibility turned the US from the world's leading creditor to the world's leading debtor, tripling national debt and raising threats to the economy that were rapidly escalated by George W. Bush. But for now, it is the crisis of unemployment that is the gravest concern.

The final 'compromise' on the crisis - more accurately, a capitulation to the far right - is the opposite of what the public wants throughout, and is almost certain to lead to slower growth and long-term harm to all but the rich and corporations, which are enjoying record profits. Few serious economists would disagree with Harvard economist Lawrence Summers that "America's current problem is much more a jobs and growth deficit than an excessive budget deficit," and that the deal reached in Washington in August, though preferable to a highly unlikely default, is likely to cause further harm to a deteriorating economy.

Not even discussed is the fact that the deficit would be eliminated if the dysfunctional privatized health care system in the US were replaced by one similar to other industrial societies, which have half the per person costs and at least comparable health outcomes. The financial institutions and pharmaceutical industry are far too powerful for such options even to be considered, though the thought seems hardly Utopian. Off the agenda for similar reasons are other economically sensible options, such as a small financial transactions tax.

Meanwhile, new gifts are regularly lavished on Wall Street. The House Appropriations Committee cut the budget request for the Securities and Exchange Commission, the prime barrier against financial fraud. The Consumer Protection Agency is unlikely to survive intact. And Congress wields other weapons in its battle against future generations. In the face of Republican opposition to environmental protection, "A major American utility is shelving the nation's most prominent effort to capture carbon dioxide from an existing coal-burning power plant, dealing a severe blow to efforts to rein in emissions responsible for global warming," the New York Times reports.

The self-inflicted blows, while increasingly powerful, are not a recent innovation. They trace back to the 1970s, when the national political economy underwent major transformations, bringing to an end what is commonly called "the Golden Age" of (state) capitalism. Two major elements were financialization and offshoring of production, both related to the decline in rate of profit in manufacturing, and the dismantling of the post-war Bretton Woods system of capital controls and regulated currencies. The ideological triumph of "free market doctrines," highly selective as always, administered further blows, as they were translated into deregulation, rules of corporate governance linking huge CEO rewards to short-term profit, and other such policy decisions. The resulting concentration of wealth yielded greater political power, accelerating a vicious cycle that has led to extraordinary wealth for a tenth of one percent of the population, mainly CEOs of major corporations, hedge fund managers, and the like, while for the large majority real incomes have virtually stagnated.

In parallel, the cost of elections skyrocketed, driving both parties even deeper into corporate pockets. What remains of political democracy has been undermined further as both parties have turned to auctioning congressional leadership positions. Political economist Thomas Ferguson observes that "uniquely among legislatures in the developed world, U.S. congressional parties now post prices for key slots in the lawmaking process." The legislators who fund the party get the posts, virtually compelling them to become servants of private capital even beyond the norm. The result, Ferguson continues, is that debates "rely heavily on the endless repetition of a handful of slogans that have been battle tested for their appeal to national investor blocs and interest groups that the leadership relies on for resources."

The post-Golden Age economy is enacting a nightmare envisaged by the classical economists, Adam Smith and David Ricardo. Both recognized that if British merchants and manufacturers invested abroad and relied on imports, they would profit, but England would suffer. Both hoped that these consequences would be averted by home bias, a preference to do business in the home country and see it grow and develop. Ricardo hoped that thanks to home bias, most men of property would "be satisfied with the low rate of profits in their own country, rather than seek a more advantageous employment for their wealth in foreign nations.

In the past 30 years, the "masters of mankind," as Smith called them, have abandoned any sentimental concern for the welfare of their own society, concentrating instead on short-term gain and huge bonuses, the country be damned - as long as the powerful nanny state remains intact to serve their interests.

A graphic illustration appeared on the front page of the New York Times on August 4. Two major stories appear side by side. One discusses how Republicans fervently oppose any deal "that involves increased revenues" - a euphemism for taxes on the rich. The other is headlined "Even Marked Up, Luxury Goods Fly Off Shelves." The pretext for cutting taxes on the rich and corporations to ridiculous lows is that they will invest in creating jobs - which they cannot do now as their pockets are bulging with record profits.

The developing picture is aptly described in a brochure for investors produced by banking giant Citigroup. The bank's analysts describe a global society that is dividing into two blocs: the plutonomy and the rest. In such a world, growth is powered by the wealthy few, and largely consumed by them. Then there are the 'non-rich,' the vast majority, now sometimes called the global precariat, the workforce living a precarious existence. In the US, they are subject to "growing worker insecurity," the basis for a healthy economy, as Federal Reserve chair Alan Greenspan explained to Congress while lauding his performance in economic management. This is the real shift of power in global society.

The Citigroup analysts advise investors to focus on the very rich, where the action is. Their "Plutonomy Stock Basket," as they call it, far outperformed the world index of developed markets since 1985, when the Reagan-Thatcher economic programs of enriching the very wealthy were really taking off.

Before the 2007 crash for which the new post-Golden Age financial institutions were largely responsible, these institutions had gained startling economic power, more than tripling their share of corporate profits. After the crash, a number of economists began to inquire into their function in purely economic terms. Nobel laureate in economics Robert Solow concludes that their general impact is probably negative: "the successes probably add little or nothing to the efficiency of the real economy, while the disasters transfer wealth from taxpayers to financiers."

By shredding the remnants of political democracy, they lay the basis for carrying the lethal process forward - as long as their victims are willing to suffer in silence.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Irene

















The word "hurricane" probably is derived from the Mayan "Huracan," a storm God. The name hurricane is used to describe a tropical cyclone at it most intense in the Atlantic Ocean and Northeast Pacific. The term is not used in the Southern Hemisphere. I don't know why.
A tropical cyclone graduates to the status of a full blown hurricane after winds generated from the storm reaches or exceeds 74 miles an hour. Hurricanes are born from tropical depressions (an organized system of clouds and thunderstorms with a defined, closed surface circulation with winds up to 38 MPH), which gain strength over an ocean and turn into tropical storms (an organized system of clouds and thunderstorms with a defined, closed surface circulation with winds from 39 to 73 MPH). Once a tropical cyclone reaches hurricane intensity it is further referenced into 5 different categories: Category 1, with winds from 74 to 95 MPH and a storm surge of 4-5 feet; Category 2, with winds from 96 to 110 MPH and a storm surge of 6-8 feet; Category 3, with winds from 111 to 130 MPH and a storm surge of 9-12 feet; Category 4, with winds from 131 to 155 MPH and a storm surge of 13-18 feet; and Category 5, with winds from 156 to infinity and a storm surge above 18 feet.
The term "Storm Surge," refers to an offshore rise in the water level which is associated with low pressure weather systems like a tropical cyclone, primarily caused by high winds pushing at the surface of the water, hence the stronger the winds, the higher the surge. in 2005 Hurricane Katrina, for instance, created one of the highest storm surges on record at more than 25 feet, which of course facilitated the massive flooding of that city.
A hurricane is also characterized by its circular appearance (as seen from the Earth's orbit, or outer space) with a prominent "eye" at the center. The circular motion of the storm is a result of its dissipation of energy and what is known as the Coriolis effect, which is a result of the Earth's rotation, in the absence of strong steering winds (the winds in the Earth's atmosphere that affect the path of the storm, or its "track"). In the Northern Hemisphere this effect pulls the easterly winds at the northern latitudes of the storm toward the North Pole in a counter clockwise rotation. Storms of this nature in the Southern hemisphere are pulled in a clockwise rotation toward the South Pole (this is the same force that makes the water draining out of a bathtub in the northern hemisphere turn counter clockwise, and the opposite in the southern hemisphere).
The "eye" of a hurricane near its center is an area of sinking air, typically from 2 to 230 miles in diameter. The area within the "eye" can be either relatively calm and free from harsh winds, or violent depending on the characteristics of the storm. The "eye" can be clearly visible from space or aircraft, or covered with overcast.
The source of energy for these storms are the same as every other weather event, the Sun. Energy from the sun heats the ocean's water which causes evaporation and upward condensation. therefore, a tropical cyclone is a giant vertical heat engine supported by the mechanics driven by such physical forces as the rotation of the planet and gravity.



Continued condensation results in increased energy into the system converted into mechanical energy and higher wind speeds. The higher wind speeds and low pressure results in increased evaporation and more condensation. Released energy results in updrafts which increase the height of the storm, which further speeds condensation, which increases wind speeds, on and on. This results are what is known as a "positive feedback loop" wherein the storm sustains itself as long as it's energy source remains intact, which is warm ocean water. That is why hurricanes lose energy and power, and die out after making landfall... their energy source is withdrawn, and they dissipate.
Cyclonic storms are not limited to the planet Earth. The Great Red Spot which protudes in the southern hemisphere of Jupiter, the solar system's largest planet, is an example of a anticyclonic storm. It is still a cyclone but due to the colder temperatures experienced on Jupiter, and the characteristics of the storm itself, the Great Red Spot ignores the Coriolis effect, and rotates in a counter clockwise rotation while residing in the southern hemisphere. It's been around for at least 181 years and possibly longer than 346, and is large enough to contain two or three planets the size of Earth. The winds (made up mostly of hydrogen and helium gases) at the periphery of the storm reach as high as 268.5 MPH.
Hurricane season back here on Earth typically begins on June 1st, and lasts until the end of November. During this period the difference between temperatures aloft and sea surface temperatures are the greatest, with storm activity peaking around September 10th.
In the United States hurricanes are given names to help differentiate them from each other, and aids in warning the populace from an incoming system. For particularly destructive storms their names will be retired after the system dissipates. For example there will never be another "Hurricane Katrina."
At this time, as I write this at 3:45PM, Friday the 26th of August, 2011, a Category 2 hurricane is threatening the entire eastern seaboard of the United States.
It's name is Irene.

Last night I sent two Emails to my lovely ex-case manger Erin, warning her of Hurricane Irene's existence, and that she should warn her family in New Jersey that it would be coming their way, probably passing overhead on Sunday morning. She has not replied, possibly due to her not coming into work today... who knows? I certainly don't. However, the result remains that her lovely mother, Patricia, her sister Jesse, and all the rest of Erin's clan will go unwarned and face possible destruction.
All I can say is that I did all that I can to save them. As Randle Patrick McMurphy once said, in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," "I tried, damn it! At least I did that."
In any case, Irene's on it's way. I will attempt to keep track of it's movement and what it does throughout the remaining lifetime of this hurricane. Hopefully it will veer out back into the Atlantic and miss the highly populated areas (it is estimated that 65 to 70 million people lie within storm's path) of the northeast coast of the U.S. all together, but that it not expected.
Irene is currently approaching the coast near the Carolinas, moving north at a leisurely 14 MPH. At it's present strength Irene is expected to generate 4 to 8 inches of rain, winds are now blowing at 100 MPH, with a possible storm surge of 6 to 10 feet.
Everybody says that this storm is "huge," "massive," "really really big," but try as I might, I've found no one who will put a number to this dimension. However, a crew member aboard the International Space Station said this today: "We are used to traveling long distances - but this storm stretches from Cuba to [the] Carolinas -- this is a huge scary storm."
http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewnews.html?id=1563
From Raleigh, North Carolina to Havana, Cuba is approximately 900 miles. That's a big storm. (Rachel Maddow just told me Irene is about 510 miles in diameter. How does she know? Has she been out there with a tape measure? I don't think so).
If Irene retains this intensity, low lying areas along the east coast face significant flooding events, especially when the storm approaches at high tide (approximately 8:00AM and 8:00PM in New York). Appropriately, Mayor Bloomberg of New York City has ordered the evacuation of up to 250,000 to 370,000 people from lower Manhattan and other nearby areas that could face floods. Subways and buses will shut down tomorrow at noon. This is the first time in New York's history subways have been closed due to an approaching weather event.
10 states have declared a "States of Emergency," including New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North and South Carolina.
The United States Navy has sent its submarines and ships out to sea to better ride out the storm.
Incidentally, House Majority Leader, Eric Canter, in the face of the approaching Irene, still insists that emergency preparedness measures will be supplied to the people of Virginia, and the rest of the nation, only when matching spending cuts are found to offset the costs.
http://www.alternet.org/newsandviews/article/657134/gop%27s_callous%2C_money-oriented_response_to_storm_damage%3A_%22it_is_sinful%22/#paragraph4
This man is clearly a sociopath and needs to be defeated in next year's election. Please, someone run against this clown!
Today, Friday the 26th, there has been almost constant coverage of the oncoming storm on the cable news stations (I don't know about the Fox Propaganda Network. I refuse to infect my television with it's presence. My T.V. has done nothing to deserve that).
The reason for this is due to the size of Irene, and the locations it is likely to affect. Like last Tuesday's earthquake on the East Coast, the folks who live in this region are unused to this type of event, thusly they may be somewhat at odds on how to react and take the necessary precautions required to remain relatively safe (an example. New York usually has only about 1 day of reserve food on hand. Food is usually trucked in on a daily basis, which is insufficient for emergency situations). Precautions that might be second nature to those who live further south, and experience these storms on a somewhat annual basis are new to those living further north. Indeed, hurricanes are rare on the Northeast coast. The colder waters and air currents usually tear storms like this apart.
However, hurricanes Bob in 1991, Gloria in 1985, and Donna in 1960 reached the Northeast. The 1938 storm called "The Long Island Express" or "The Great Hurricane of 1938" killed hundreds of people in New England.
This storm is a monster and should be taken very seriously. Exceptionally seriously.
So seriously that our President responded to it before the storm hit, rather than waiting 5 days after. What a welcome change. Speaking from Martha's Vineyard, where President Obama has been on a short vacation with his family, he addressed the nation, stating that he has been kept fully informed of the situation, that federal resources were in place, that citizens should listen to their local authorities for instructions, evacuate early if required... and get some bottled water and other supplies.
Martha's Vineyard lies in the expected path of Irene. The President has wisely chosen to cut his vacation a little short (he was going to leave on Saturday anyway), and left Friday afternoon. I don't know where he went, probably back to D.C., and hopefully the White House is hurricane proof.
Hurricane Irene proves that global warming is real and affecting current weather systems. I have no evidence to back up that statement, but I'll be like the right wingers who say anything they want without evidence without getting called on it by the media.
And I like to say it because it really pisses off the Tea Baggers and Republicans, and Koch brothers.
However, there are anywhere from 77 to 97 tropical cyclones a year worldwide, and the number of storms in the Atlantic has increased since 1995.
And I'll leave you with this while awaiting further developments; global warming, climate change, whatever you want to call it is real. And extreme weather systems like Irene will become more frequent and powerful, as well as other phenomena associated with the Earth getting hotter.
Like a house on fire, it doesn't matter if global warming is occurring due to man's activities, although the evidence is overwhelming. It doesn't matter a bit! The fire still has to be put out whether the fire was caused by someone playing with matches or a lightening bolt. And global warming has to dealt with whether we caused it or not.
We owe that at least to those who will come after us.

I'll sign off now for the moment, and have some nice tuna casserole for dinner.

10:00PM EST Friday, Winds and rain have been hitting the coast of North Carolina, off and on, for the last 4 hours. A lot of locals have opted to stay at home, tourists have been directed to leave, and they left. The local concern is of possible storm surge. 50 MPH winds were measured at Wrightsville Beach, N.C.

2.3 million were ordered to evacuate the East coast region, including 1 million in New Jersey, 315,000 in Maryland, 300,000 in North Carolina, 200,000 in Virginia and 100,000 in Delaware.
"This is probably the largest number of people that have been threatened by a single hurricane in the United States," said Jay Baker, a geography professor at Florida State University.

Sorry, fell asleep while watching "Matlock." Right now it is about 5:30AM PST, 8:30AM EST, and here's what the television and Internet is telling me about what has happened, and what is happening.

Hurricane-force winds first arrived near Jacksonville, North Carolina, around 6:15AM EST (74 MPH or more). The center of the storm made landfall at 7:30AM near Cape Lookout N.C., lumbering north still at 14 MPH.
Irene was downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane during the night, but due to it's tremendous size, and the areas it is affecting, is considered extremely dangerous due to high winds, and flooding possibilities due to heavy rain and storm surge along low lying areas within Irene's path.
Wind and rain has knocked out power to more than 210,000 customers along the North Carolina coast.
President Obama has visited FEMA Headquarters to be briefed on the nation's emergency response readiness. So far he has declared emergencies for North Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts. 6,500 active duty troops are on standby. Thousands of National Guard troops have been activated.
10:00AM EST Report of a surfer dying at Virginia Beach, VA. As I watch MSNBCs coverage of the storm, I see more surfers in the water behind the poor soul making the report in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Morons.
NJ Gov. Chris Christi isn't happy with these surfers, or anyone else who gets near the beach. He has ordered evacuations of one million NJ citizens to higher grounds, but there seem to be several hundred individuals in Atlantic City who refuse to move.
So it goes.
For some reason these cable news networks think remote reporting by their correspondents are not authentic unless the reporters make their reports while standing outside in the midst of the heavy winds and rains. These men and women are getting the bejesus knocked out of them.
Wendy Miller and Eric Green got married on the boardwalk in New Jersey. All of us here at Joyce's Take congratulate them, admire their tenacity, and wish them well.
There are stories of tornadoes.
More reports of deaths come in. A man in Nash County NC was killed by a falling tree limb outside his home this morning. Yesterday a man died of a heart attack while installing plywood on his windows in Onslow County, NC., and third man is missing after either jumping or falling into the Cape Fear River Friday.
2:45PM EST report of 11 year old boy in Virginia killed after being pinned down by fallen tree in Newport News, VA.
At 3:37 EST I'm getting another report of a tree falling on a man in Virginia, and another surfer, in Florida, was standing in shallow water when a large wave struck and killed him.
Trees and surfers. Stay the F inside, and don't go near the water... like the reporters for MSNBC are doing.
New York City Mayor Bloomberg has ordered 300,000 people who live in possible areas of flooding to leave. These areas include Battery Park City at the southern tip of Manhattan, Coney Island and the beachfront Rockaways. Subways, and public transportation have now been shut down, which really affects the city as most New Yorkers don't have a car.
Some of these news anchors are asking what the expected cost of repairing damage due to Irene is expected to be. How can anyone know that at this point. Yet some have said 4.7 to 6 billion dollars would be a low estimate if Irene passes by New York City. If it hits New York, with resulting damage due to flooding, that estimate shoots up to around 35 billion.
http://www.care2.com/causes/hurricane-irene-35-billion-in-damages.html
The Red Cross is asking everyone, everyone around the nation to donate blood. I will next week.
My buddies at the old Salvation Army are ready and waiting to provide sandwiches and coffee to first responders, wherever they may be.
They're always doing that.
At 3:50PM EST the center of Irene was said to be centered on Fairfield N.C., and headed north.
4:55 PM, 506,372 people in Virginia are now without power. That's almost more than a half million.
5:15PM Another report of a child's death in a car accident in Goldsboro N.C.
At 6:32PM, the center of Irene is entering the state of Virginia, staying near the ocean as it continues to sideswipe the East coast of the U.S. The people of Norfolk, and other coastal cities in Virginia, are concerned about high tide storm surge, and the resulting flooding. That may happen in about an hour and a half.
Everybody is worried about storm surge.
7:30PM, clouds are now covering the skies over New York City.
One problem seems to be the speed in which the storm was moving. There isn't any. 14 MPH is really slow, only about 4.5 times faster than walking. The longer the storm hangs around the more damage is likely from wind, rain, and... storm surge.
"Someone tonight is going to get at least 10 to 15 inches," says NBC meteorologist Bill Karins
Oh my. I assume he was talking about rainfall.
Power outages, river flooding, beach destruction, city flooding, windows blowing out of high rise buildings in New York and Philadelphia (the higher the altitude the faster the wind apparently), is what Bill is worried about.
8:45PM A death in Chesterfield VA is confirmed. By 11:00, nine deaths would be attributed to Irene.
And by 11:00 New York City was shut down, the streets almost empty. A tornado alert is effect for the next six hours for NYC and Long Island, & DE, CT, NJ.
http://www.nyc.gov/html/oem/html/hazards/weather_tornado.shtml
Approximately 2 million people are now without power, with more expected outages in New Jersey, and later in New York.
The port of Baltimore closed to all inbound and outbound traffic.
At 1:00AM EST, another death... this time in Maryland, is reported, making the total now 10.
The storm plods on, maintaining 81 MPH winds, gusts of 98 MPH, moving NNE at 16 MPH.
St Mary's Lake Damn in Maryland reported to be in danger of failing. Over 100,000 live in that county.

Sorry, fell asleep again while watching, "I Eat Your Skin," on "Elvira's Movie Macabre."
This is odd as Elvira usually keeps me awake no matter what she is showing, or rather, because of what she's showing... I don't know why.
At 9:00AM Sunday morning Hurricane Irene was downgraded to a tropical storm, with winds hovering around 65 MPH. Many are upset that they downgraded the storm before it made landfall in New York City as this would have been the first hurricane to make landfall there since 1897, but those freaking meteorologists at the National Hurricane Center just had to downgrade it right before it landed.
Freaking meteorologists.
Still flooding did occur due to storm surge in parts of the city, including lower Manhattan, which includes Wall Street. If it will flush the greedy bankers and hedge fund managers, and speculators out of there then I'm all for floods. The more the better. However it seems that the New York Stock Exchange can run on generators, and everyone is expected back to work this morning.
Figures.
The Holland tunnel, which lies between New York to New Jersey was shut down due to flooding, from New Jersey to New York was still open. The Lincoln Tunnel remained open in both directions.
Rivers in New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania, and southern New York, are cresting due to surging. Pretty rainbows can be seen in PA.
One million people in Virginia are without power (including my cousin Kathy in Mt Vernon). 183,000 in Pennsylvania. 420,000 in New Jersey. Power could remain out for days.
High winds and rains were now hitting Boston and Bedford, Massachusetts.
Officials warned of the possibility of severe flooding over the next few days as runoff from the storm makes its way into creeks and rivers. This prompted the Mayor of Newark to emphasize the need to improve the nation's infrastructure, and I for one wholeheartedly agree.
The ceremony celebrating the "I Have a Dream," speech by Rev. Martin Luther King, was postponed, and the site of his memorial is indeed flooded to a degree. The mayor says there were no injuries or loss of life in Washington D.C.
Fortunately no reports of deaths have been reported in New Jersey, so it would seem that Patricia and Jesse have escaped destruction... this time.
The common wisdom is to stay inside Sunday as emergency workers get to work.
No one is heeding the common wisdom though, going out in Hoboken, NJ, for instance, folks are walking their dogs, looking around, getting hit by trees, etc. Oh yeah, the surfers are back.
Starbucks is open again in D.C., so everything must be okay.
Except for Al Roker who was reporting from the waterfront in Long Beach, New York. A sudden gust of wind blew him out to sea and he hasn't been heard from since. Everyone believes he is exceptionably buoyant however, and aren't too worried.
As of 4:30 EST 400,000 New Yorkers who had evacuated low lying areas are being allowed to return home. It may take a while though to get the subways up and running again.
"I think it's fair to say you're going to have a tough commute in the morning," Mayor Bloomberg said.
And as far as global warming goes all I can say is "This year has been one of the most extreme for weather in U.S. history, with $35 billion in losses so far from floods, tornadoes and heat waves."
http://news.yahoo.com/irene-rakes-east-coast-011950851.html
Don't look for relief from worldwide drought, food storages, lack of available drinking water, increased pestilence and disease, and more extreme weather conditions, anytime soon.
Of course, the Republicans will now criticize President Obama for making such a big deal about this storm, despite Al Roker. The fact is no one knew what Irene would do or where it would go, or how much damage it would cause, or not cause (not even Michelle Bachman and Rick Perry with their direct connections to the almighty).
And Irene did cause a great deal of damage, and will continue to do so. At least 15 people have lost their lives during the storm (and those who may die or be injured during the clean up efforts). The nation seems to have lucked out with Irene (relatively). But we need to keep in mind, this is just the first hurricane of the season. Hopefully there won't be anymore.
I think I'll sign off now from this Hurricane Watch, because quite frankly, I need the rest.
Again, fortunately Irene was not nearly as destructive as it could have been. Part of that is due to the pro-active response from those agencies responsible for the safety of the public in emergency situations, and the foresight and diligence of the President of the United States.
I think we can all breath a collective sigh of relief.
Until the next time I bid you adieu.

Addendum: Monday morning, 7:05AM PST, Al Roker's back! I've seen him on T.V.!

And, at 10:53AM PST, I received word from my lovely ex-case manager, Erin, whose Internet had been knocked out undoubtedly due to Irene, and who is now back on line, passed this word along: "Somehow my family survived hurricane Irene without losing a single tree in their yard! Or electricity!"
All of us here at Joyce's Take are very pleased to receive this good news.

And finally, I am very pleased to report that my lovely cousin Kathy has had her power restored to her home at approximately 4:00PM EST.
She's says there wasn't much in the freezer anyway.
Well stock up cousin. You never know when the next hurricane is coming.
Or earthquake.
Or locusts.
Hey, it could happen.

http://news.yahoo.com/irenes-toll-jumps-38-vt-towns-battle-floods-222140755.html
http://www.alternet.org/story/152202/the_5_dumbest_right-wing_reactions_to_hurricane_irene?page=2
http://news.yahoo.com/killer-storm-leaves-vt-homeowners-towns-stranded-063750835.html;_ylc=X3oDMTNoNTJhNDZoBF9TAzg0Mzk3OTMzBGFjdANtYWlsX2NiBGN0A2EEaW50bAN1cwRsYW5nA2VuLVVTBHBrZwMzYWNlN2M2Yi1jMjg1LTMzYjItYjliMS04YmQ3NDM3NTYzOTYEc2VjA21pdF9zaGFyZQRzbGsDBHRlc3QD;_ylv=3
http://news.yahoo.com/east-coast-feels-irenes-effects-091516589.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/31/nyregion/brave-foolhardy-and-just-unlucky-the-lives-lost-in-hurricane-irene.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha23

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Salvation Diary 52


"Salvation" artist Amanda Milke
http://amandamilke.wordpress.com/

September 6 Friday Day 360


I had set my alarm for 5:30. When it sounded I got up and turned it off, went back to bed and got up three hours later.
When I did finally get up I walked into my semi-private bathroom and smoked an unauthorized cigarette while contemplating my next move.
I returned to my room and donned my swim trunks. Looking awfully sexy, I made my way to the basement and exercised for about half an hour, then returned upstairs to take an unauthorized shower.
After lunch (beans and franks), I asked my friend, Jerry Schimmele, if he would like to take a walk with me to the mall that they have here in Pasadena. It being his day off, he agreed.
We didn't go to the mall at first. It was being circled by too many helicopters, so we decided to go to the Bank of America in order to cash my massive paycheck.
At the mall, Jerry went to buy our weekly Lotto tickets, while I explored Miller's Outpost in search of jeans. I found two pair that I liked. Although they were on sale I wound up paying more than fifty dollars for them. I shouldn't complain. They'd cost a lot more if I were in Moscow, if I could get them at all.
Jerry didn't want to buy anything, and I didn't want to spend anymore money, so we left the mall and began our journey back to the residence.
We met three hungry Mountain Trolls on the way, whom we had to trick into open sunlight to get by, where they turned to stone.
Stupid trolls.
We passed Joe Leberthon in the park, as well. He was sitting down in the soft grass with his girlfriend. We did not see her face. It was buried in his lap.
Joe said this to us,"Hey Jerry, I bought some speed from your son." He smiled after saying that.
Jerry replied with perfect grandeur, "Sure. Probably some hookers too!"
Jerry's son, Garth Schimmele, had at one time been a whore monger.
We walked on.
I was writing in the dining room, and drinking from a glass of ice water, when Ron Cooper came up to me.
"Rick, I've got an idea for you," he said. "I know you're a bachelor and all. What about Cathy?"
"What about her?"
"She's a real nice girl. And I don't think she's been with anyone for three years. I kind of noticed some eye contact between you two last Wednesday, and thought you should get together."
"You do?"
"Sure. She's a really together person, and she's real cute! I'd go after her myself, except she's my counselor and all. I'd kind of like just to have her as a good friend. Know what I mean?"
"Oh yes."
"So what do you think? About Cathy I mean."
"I think she's a wonderful girl. I like her very much."
"I knew it! Now that I know how you feel, I'll try to put in a good word for you."
"You will?"
"Sure. She's real nice. The two of you would be good together."
"You think she likes me?"
"Yeah. Don't worry. I'll fix it up for you."
"Well, thanks Ron. I really appreciate that."
"No problem."
I went upstairs to put my notebook away. I sat on my bed a moment thinking, and then to the desk to start my shift.


September 7 Saturday Day 361


Upon awaking I read a little, beginning my day slow and easy. I read from Luke, and then some of Vonnegut's "Jailbird," novel, and some from "Imperial Earth," by Arthur C Clarke. At 9:30 I dressed and went downstairs.
I had talked to my mother last night, learning that my Uncle Lester seems to be improving... eating more and gaining some weight. Tough old bastard. I was also told that my beautiful little niece has gotten into trouble again at school (my niece is nothing if not consistent). My mother said she would drive up Thursday afternoon.
Very good.
Things are going rather well right now. I'm quite happy.
I wrote until lunch time, and after I ate I went to the park to lie in the sun. An hour and a half this time.
Upon returning, I had just enough time to shower and dress before going to work.
I walked to Music Plus in the evening to get the weekend's movies. "The Rookie," with Clint Eastwood and Charlie Sheen, and "Goodfellas," a Martin Scorsese film, staring Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci. I played the Eastwood movie tonight for the boys.
Kevin Rockoff will be leaving the residence on Monday. He'll be moving in with Wolf Pandolfi, sharing living expenses. He seems to be doing well in his new job. Good for him.
I wish him well.
Hobart Rodgers has been seen staggering around the local area recently. Jim Dockens can't be far away. Apparently they've been boozing it up pretty good down at the park south of the residence (not my park), getting sick really fast.
I wish them well too.
I drove the guys to the Alano Club A.A. meeting, then brought them back when it was over. That's my job. I get paid for it.
Still, it was nice to get out of the residence and drive around.
Along the way I stopped at Vons and bought some microwave popcorn.
After my ten o'clock rounds I sat in the office and browsed through the "American Red Cross Standard First Aid Workbook." I would need to know all of the information that was in there by September 21st, in order to pass my American Red Cross Standard First Aid class. Tonight I learned all about emergency action principles and rescue breathing. Important things to know if you have asthma and find yourself in an emergency.
I then wrote for about an hour.
Just before midnight (the Witching Hour) I fixed myself an unauthorized egg and cheese sandwich on an English muffin in the canteen. I then ate it. It was good.
After midnight I returned to the canteen and popped my microwave popcorn. I also grabbed a diet coke, then retired to the small T.V. room and watched "The Rookie," a typical Eastwood/Sheen film, with lots of gratuitous sex and violence.
After the film I said goodnight to Wolf, then went to bed.
I dreamt of the fungus monsters on Mushroom Island.


September 8 Sunday Day 362


Up at 8:00 for chapel where things went reasonably well. Not too much fumbling around with the collection plate. I changed clothes afterwards. They were unlikely to change themselves.
Then off to the American Legion building in South Pasadena. Ron Collins was absent yet once again due to a 10:00 Rams game. Robert drove Brian Montique and myself, plus Art Dean and Jim Shelton, who needed a lift to the Transition House.
Jill, Robert tells me, has moved to a different location, and hasn't given anybody her new address, so it would be little use to cruise her neighborhood in hopes of espying her, or making licentious bird noises outside her windows.
At the meeting I sat next to a man named Jack. An older gentleman who I had first met at last week's meeting. A very open and friendly person. He told me that if we drink long enough alcohol adversely affects us in three distinct ways.
"First," he said, "it affects our memory. Then... I forgot the other two."
He introduced me to the day's speaker, an Irish Catholic person, who used humor extensively throughout his talk, making that forty five minute period very enjoyable.
I walked back part way with Skip Fennel. We parted ways at the liquor store at Fair Oaks and California, where I purchased seven dollars worth of Super Lotto tickets. I can do that now because I am an employed person and receive massive paychecks.
By the time I got out of the store Brian Montique, Richard Reyes, and Scott Cremer came walking up. I joined them.
We chatted as we walked back to the residence. Somehow we got onto the topic of relationships.
"Man, these guys be hunting that pussy all the damn time!" Cremer exclaimed. "How can you get sober like that? I made a promise to myself that I would not get into any kind of relationship for at least six months."
"Shuusssch! Did you hear that?" I asked.
"What, Joyce?"
"The sound of the entire world's female population sighing with relief."
"That's very true," Scott thoughtfully replied. "I've wrecked some real emotional havoc in my day."
Haven't we all.
I changed into my sexy swim trunks back at the residence, then walked to the park to lie in the hazy sun for one and a quarter hours listening to some classic C.C.R. on classic radio.
At 5:00 I viewed a repeat episode of "Star Trek, the Next Generation." while reading parts of the Bible, the Clark book, and the co-dependency book.
Then I made my way to the small T.V. room to grab a seat for the evening's V.C.R. movie, "Goodfellas." A remarkable effort of Scorcese's.The film was disturbing when one realizes that it was based on a true story, and that some of the people depicted really did live that way (and continue to do so), which really is no way to live at all. All of the people in the film either wound up dead, in prison, or in some witness protection program totally dependent on the tender mercies of the United States government.
I felt like walking after the movie. I walked down an almost empty Fair Oaks Blvd. to the Los Tacos shop. There, I ordered three tequitos with guacamole to go. When they were ready I took them and ate them while continuing on to the Vons supermarket, where I purchased some multi-vitamins. Nine bucks for almost a whole year's supply. Not bad.
I also attempted to buy another Super Lotto ticket from the Super Lotto machine they have there, but it wouldn't accept my money.
It just was not meant to be.
When I returned to the residence I went up to my lonely room and read of the life of Jesus Christ in a historical context, which upon reflection, is probably the only way we should look upon the life of Jesus Christ, or anybody! I read about him while watching a repeat episode of "Cheers." After "Cheers," was an episode of the show "Monsters," that I had not seen before, and which starred Juliet Mills. I fell asleep half way through.
I woke briefly at 2:00AM, and flicked off the T.V., then knocked out again.


September 9 Monday Day 363


Rosh Hashanah, the Hebrew year 5752 begins today.
To celebrate I got up early and had breakfast (scrambled eggs and ham) with Robert. We each jovially swapped old Rosh Hashanah stories.
Afterwards I returned upstairs to my bed, exhausted from my celebratory efforts, and slept for a little while.
At 8:00 I got up, slapped myself awake, changed into my sexy swim trunks and hitched a ride on the elevator down to the basement and exercised for twenty six minutes, then hit the showers.
Soon I was in the lobby, writing my little heart out. Wendy came out from the counseling room once or twice, but had no smiles for me this morning.
Women are like that. Sometimes they smile, and sometimes they don't.
I wrote there in the lobby until 10:30, then I put my pen and notebook away, and dashed off to the bus stop to catch the 256 north. I departed the bus directly in front of the office of Dr. Campbell, the credit dentist.
Being basically very vain I had come to get my teeth bleached. I hoped that by bleaching my teeth most of them would get as white as my shining new front cap. I was unaware of how the bleaching process worked, or how much pain to expect once I was strapped into the dreaded chair of torture.
I soon realized I had little to worry about. They took impressions of my upper and lower arches, then sent me on my way telling me to come back next week. The most painful procedure they administered was to relieve me of a one hundred dollar bill.
The Pasadena mall was my next stop. I needed to buy a new shirt to wear on Friday night. Well... I didn't need to, I wanted to. And I did, I bought one. A nice light blue one. Very nice. On sale too!
I stopped by the warehouse record store to check out their Jethro Tull collection. I was not impressed.
Finally, I treated myself to a "Maxi-Steak" sandwich, just for the pure sweat hell of it.
I walked through the park on my way back to the residence, and wrote again, in the lobby. Wendy was still there much to my surprise and delight.
And before she left for the day, she gave me a nice smile and asked how I was. I told her that I was fine. We talked about school briefly, and "Romeo and Juliet."
In tonight's repeat episode of "Star Trek, the Next Generation," Tasha Yar and Mr. Data both got laid. To each other!
Good for them.
Seems to be a lot of sex going on on board the Enterprise lately.
I finished the co-dependency book that Cathy had lent to me. The author, Melodie Beattie, has a lot of valuable things to say within it, and she says them quite well. I'm very glad that I read it.
At 10:58PM I had my last drag off of my last cigarette. I'm finally going to give them up for good.
Really!
At 11:00, I changed the channel on my television to 28, and turned down the volume. Then I snuggled into bed nice and cozy, and watched Part 6 of "The Mind." The episode dealt with depression.
At midnight I was so depressed because I had quit smoking I had to roll over and go to sleep.
I dreamt of riding the range in Marlboro Country.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Shock Doctrine 4







Reagan and Bush began the process.
We've seen how the Reagan administration was responsible for arming Osama bin Laden and his Mujahideen during the 1980s. We've seen how the Reagan administration helped set the stage for the brutal emergence of the Taliban in Afghanistan. And we've seen how the Bush administration, upon entering office, ignored dire warnings from the previous administration concerning Al Qaeda's desire to attack the American heartland, specifically with the use commercial aircraft (well before National Security Advisor Condolezza Rice (Muammar Gaddafi's sweetie) and President Bush went on record to say that no one could have imagined or predicted that terrorists would hijack planes and crash them into buildings, despite the warnings they received, Tom Clancy's, 1994 novel, "Debt of Honor," told of a Japanese 747 jumbo jet intentionally crashing into the Capital building during some kind of ceremony, killing most of the senior officers of the U.S. government, the President included. Interestingly in the sequel to "Debt of Honor," "Executive Orders," this attack would lead to the imposition of martial law, a prediction of the Shock Doctrine, as well as the weaponry used in the 9/11 attacks).
But what were the domestic goals of Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and the Republican ideology of the time? Were they any different then they are now, and what were the inevitable adverse results of the implementation of these strategies to achieve these goals?
Republicans like tax cuts and deregulation (which is conducive to the Milton Friedman model of a market economy).
Hey, guess what, six months after entering office Reagan enacted the Economic Recovery Tax Act (ERTA) of 1981, a 23 percent across-the-board cut in personal marginal tax rates. The Tax Reform Act of 1986 lowered rates yet again. Public debt rose from $712 billion in 1980 to $2,052 billion in 1988, a roughly three-fold increase. By the time Reagan begrudgingly stepped down (by the time he left office he wanted to do away with the 22nd Amendment of the Constitution, limiting term limits for the President), he had expanded the U.S. military budget to a staggering 43% increase over the total expenditure during the height of the Vietnam war, and he wasted billions of tax payer dollars on a misguided attempt to build a missile defense system (Star Wars).
Cut taxes, increase spending and debt... sound familiar?
Unemployment soared after Reagan’s 1981 tax cuts. Joblessness rose to 10.8 percent after Reagan enacted the cuts, and it took years for the rate to get back down to its previous level. Meanwhile, income inequality exploded. Sound familiar?
Ronald Reagan increased the size of government tremendously. He promised to cut spending, “to move boldly, decisively, and quickly to control the runaway growth of federal spending,” but federal spending increased under his reign. He attempted to privatize Social Security in 1983.
The result of these policies and many more enacted under Reagan was to shift money from the American tax payers, the middle class; to Wall Street, the defense industry, banks, and the wealthiest in the nation.
Bill Clinton entered office in 1993. As always a Democratic President entering office after the Republicans have been in there for a while, it's their job to begin to clean up the mess. He did that leaving office in 2001 with an actual budget surplus. For those of you who don't know what that is, dear readers, it's like having money in the bank rather than owing it on a credit card.
Unfortunately, Clinton somehow got infected by Miltonism and enacted the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a trade agreement between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Ross Perot's "Giant Sucking Sound," of jobs leaving the country could almost immediately be heard, as it is today (as President Obama continues to pursue free trade agreements in Asia and South America, and more and more companies out source jobs overseas). We don't need, nor can stand free trade. We require fair trade!
By the way, speaking of Osama bin Laden, Clinton survived a little known assassination attempt believed to have been instigated by Osama in the Philippines in 1996.
And after Al Qaeda bombed our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, Clinton was the first to take offensive action against Bin Laden by ordering cruise missile strikes on suspected Al Qaeda targets in Afghanistan and Sudan. He ordered several missions to capture or kill Osama which obviously failed.
George W. Bush entered office in "2001, a Republican Spending Spree Odyssey." (George's dad, George H. W. Bush, had the unenviable task of cleaning up after Reagan, and was stymied in his efforts, much as President Obama is today, with Republicans in Congress who thought the budget could be balanced by a reduction in federal spending only, while the Democrats insisted on raising taxes) George W. cut taxes in 2001 and 2003. He started two unnecessary wars that were not funded, and didn't even appear in the budget. He let deregulation run rampant, and was most likely the worst president this country has ever had (hence the current popularity of Bush clone, another Governor from freaking Texas, Richard Perry. I shouldn't say clone... the two are somewhat different. As my friend Stephanie Miller said the other day on the radio, "Rick Perry is George Bush without the intellect.")
As we've discussed previously, Bush's ability to get the Patriot Act passed (with ease), and his wars of choice (plus his use of torture, extraordinary rendition, enemy combatants, etc.) is a direct result of, predicted and allowed by the Shock Doctrine, the shock being the attacks of 9/11. The only thing he wasn't able to do, his biggest regret he has said, was to privatize social security, or in other words, give trillions of our dollars directly to Wall Street. The reason he failed is because Americans would not let him get away with it. The American people woke up real fast when it was their own bottom line that was being offered to the bankers.
Deregulation of the major financial markets and interests on Wall Street are a continuation of Friedman's economic policies, which the Republicans have embraced, and which have never worked... that is for the country as a whole. It works real well if you are a Wall Street speculator, banker, or hedge fund manager, who can look to the American tax payers to bail them out when their policies, machinations, and greed inevitably force them to fail. As has been said before, these unscrupulous individuals love to "socialize the losses, and privatize the profits."
The unfortunate result is that the middle class suffers for the excess of those in the government who turn their back on the nefarious and illegal practices of big business.
Bush left the country in tatters, the worst economic shape since the Great Depression of the 1930s. This in effect was another "Shock," directed toward the American people, something that must be dealt with by using extraordinary measures that would not have been possible at any other time (the fact that the American people did not cause this crisis, which is global in nature, nor is it responsible for it, does matter at all, is never discussed, and completely ignored). Those who did precipitate the crisis are left unaccountable. The Obama administration refuses to investigate crimes that were committed, or seek damages. The Republicans in Congress, bought and paid for by multi-national corporations, and the wealthiest among us, protect those interests at all costs, refusing to raise taxes on the free loading rich. Indeed there is a movement afoot recently to make those now ineligible to pay federal income taxes, because they don't make enough money, to begin paying federal income taxes anyway ("Their fair share," they claim, in response to the talking point that 50% or so of Americans don't pay any taxes at all. This of course is patently false, as everybody pays some form of tax, be it payroll, social security, excise tax, etc., which affect the poor as a percentage of income much more than increased federal taxes on the wealthy would).
The Republicans have been successful in framing the debate within this country. I don't know why. They are completely wrong. They usually are. They are historically wrong. They wish to force austerity measures on the majority of people in this country in order to give more to the rich, who they can never appease enough.
A lot of people are beginning to figure this out and our taking action. The actions may be ineffectual at this point in time, but at least they are aware of the problem, and do not let the controlling interests in power get away with masking the real situation affecting their countries with deceitful rhetoric. Naomi Klein has written about this phenomena here:
Shock Doctrine in Practice: The Connection Between Nighttime Robbery In the Streets and Daytime Robbery By Elites
http://www.alternet.org/story/152064/shock_doctrine_in_practice%3A_the_connection_between_nighttime_robbery_in_the_streets_and_daytime_robbery_by_elites?akid=7419.204705.yfZqDZ&rd=1&t=13
http://www.truth-out.org/capitalisms-new-era/1313769455
The right has created this last "Economic Shock." They have been at war with the middle class for decades. They have created the mortgage crisis. People are being thrown out of their homes because of them. They create a new class of working poor, or just poor, then villainize them (http://www.care2.com/causes/conservative-columnist-social-problems-are-caused-by-depravity-of-the-poor.html), and complain that they still have too many refrigerators. The United States is rated the 64th nation in income inequality. They proclaim to be the party of "family values," and "Christian Ethics, yet their deeds do not match their words.
20% of our children currently live below the poverty level. A bad economy is associated with higher crime rates, and more suicides. Young adults cannot afford college. Young men and women see the sex trade as a viable option in these times of economic distress. More unwanted pregnancies occur as a result of some forcing their politically motivated views upon others. On and on. What kind of Christian values lead to these kind of policies that lead to these results? I've read the Bible and I don't see it.
We need to take our country back. We need to become aware of what is happening around us on a daily basis, not only for ourselves, but for our children. We need, as Thom Hartmann so eloquently puts it, to "raise hell" (http://www.adbusters.org/blogs/adbusters-blog/occupywallstreet.html, http://www.alternet.org/story/152158/3_things_that_must_happen_for_us_to_rise_up_and_defeat_the_corporatocracy?akid=7470.204705.0YllcW&rd=1&t=2)! We need to let our elected leaders know what it is they need to do to serve us, and not those who are the biggest donators to their re-election campaigns. We need to get money out of politics all together!
And first off, we need to stop electing those who would see us die the slow death of destitution and misery, into office.
Time ebbs and flows. Things always change for the better or for the worse. What comes around, goes around. Karma.
But great change requires great effort to begin.
And we need to get started real soon.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Woosies


Frightened D.C.ers Needing Solace and Comforting


The Epicenter of the Massive Conspiracy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NaI3zwZYuGw&feature=related

Tuesday morning at approximately 10:51AM, my time (PST), which is the only time that matters, the mischievous residents of the former gold mining town, Mineral, Virginia (population 424 as of 2000), decided to cause some trouble.
How they did it is still unknown (probably by the use of "Fracking," techniques (http://www.readersupportednews.org/news-section2/312-16/7166-fracking-could-have-caused-east-coast-earthquake), however the fact remains that approximately 5 miles south, southwest of the town, and about 3.7 miles underneath the ground, those rascals got an old geological fault line created several hundred million years ago during the formation of the Appalachian Mountains, to shift around a little for about 20 to 30 seconds.
Now the dirt on the East coast of the United States is a lot older than the rest of the country. I don't know why. It just is. And the dirt on the east coast tends to be stuck together. Now when the earth shifts around, that movement is transmitted over a large area, in the form of what some would call an earthquake. As it turns out, a 5.8 earthquake on the Richter Magnitude Scale, which is a pretty big quake, a little less powerful than a 5.9 earthquake, and much more powerful than a 5.7, most assuredly. The Richter people describe this magnitude quake as "moderate." They also describe a moderate quake as: "Can cause major damage to poorly constructed buildings over small regions. At most slight damage to well-designed buildings." They claim that this type of event is actually a natural occurrence that should be expected to happen every 800 years or so.
They were certainly correct about the amount of damage which was a result of the quake. Below is a picture representative of the comprehensive damage sustained during the mighty trembler:



It would seem that the prank backfired on the people of Mineral, Virginia, as they seemed to have received the brunt of the physical realities of making the earth move back and forth so close to where they live. Around the town masonry crumbled, cracks ran down walls, windows shattered, and chimneys crumbled. The town actually sustained some serious damage, which of course is unfortunate to say the least. However, there were no reports of physical injuries to the town's citizens, which is the most important thing.
But due to that old dirt, and the ability of the earthquake's shock waves being transmitted long distances, the quake was felt quite aways away (as opposed to the younger dirt we have here in Los Angeles, for instance, which does not transmit these types of shocks very well, resulting in much fiercer tremors in a more localized area, which causes more damage to property and people).
And people on the East coast of the United States are not used to this type of behavior from their dirt... to say the least.
I'm told that reports of tremors came from as far north as Sudbury, Ontario, which is way up in Canada, a whole different country (so this quake could be considered by some as an act of war), and as far south as Alabama.
Thousands of innocent folks poured out of offices and other buildings after experiencing the unfamiliar shocks in Washington D.C. (picture above) requiring solace and comforting. The Pentagon, White House, and the Capital building were evacuated. The Holland tunnel under the Hudson River in New York City, which links New York and New Jersey, was closed. The city's skyscrapers shifted from side to side (which is exactly what they're supposed to do in such instances.
Here are two examples of the national media's coverage of the unusual event:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amvfA3gxAZM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxDA41EIVKY
The quake was of such a magnitude that my lovely ex-case manager, Erin, was aware of it before I could dutifully report it to her in my daily Email briefing concerning current events (either that, or her family in New Jersey told her about it). This was her response when I did let her know of it: "I heard!!! So Odd!!!"
Odd Indeed! The ways of the planet are strange and marvelous.
There were a few instances of actual damage other than lawn furniture displacement reported. The Washington Monument was closed yesterday as inspectors inspected cracks in the structure way up at the top. The National Cathedral in D.C. had several pinnacles in one of it's towers either crack or brake off (which indicates the structure needs refurbishing, and why does the U.S. have a National Cathedral anyway... a clear violation of the separation of church and state!).
MSNBC commentator and host of "Hardball," Chris Matthews, was so scared by the quake that he ran off into the night and a substitute host had to take over his duties. He hasn't been heard from since.
Two nuclear reactors at the North Anna power station, which is very close to the epicenter of the quake at Mineral, were automatically taken off line during the quake, as a safety precaution. This of course proves how dependable and secure nuclear power is, and more plants of this nature should be built near existing fault lines to meet the nation's growing energy needs immediately if not sooner.
It is interesting to note that the earthquake occurred within House Majority Leader, Eric Canter's home district. It is also interesting that Rep. Cantor has voted to cut funds for natural disaster preparedness, such as the budgets for United States Geological Survey (which is the nation's agency responsible for dealing with earthquakes), the National Weather Service (who needs to know about the stinking weather anyhow... just look out the freaking window, for Christ's sake!), and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Don't need to worry about tsunami's in the U.S., this isn't freaking Indonesia!).
According to Roger West of the Richmond, VA Examiner: "Government officials predict the closure of as many as 12 NOAA offices - which provide warning services for 30 million Americans. The national weather service budget would be cut by $126 million over the next six months with furloughs at 22 forecast offices. -and shorter work weeks for the storm prediction center and the national hurricane center shall be expected.
Where are we going as a country? Last week the president of the NWS union said 'that if those cuts go through, there will be furloughs at both of the tsunami warning centers that protect the whole country.' The president also said, 'there is a very heightened risk of life if these cuts go through.'"
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/03/08/national-weather-service-union-warns-people-will-die-because-of-budget-cuts/
"What if we where to experience a disaster like Japan? How prepared are we in our country?"
http://www.examiner.com/political-buzz-in-richmond/eric-cantor-defends-cuts-that-affect-your-safety
Mr. Cantor, currently you have Hurricane Irene headed your way. How would you know about that, and make vital preparations for it's arrival if there were no agencies as those you and your Republican/Tea Bagger buddies would like to cut funding for. Are the Koch brothers going to warn you? I don't think so.
I first heard about the quake upon returning from my weekly yoga class, around 11:15, or so. Like my lovely ex-case manager I am also aware of the infrequency of events such as this on the East coast of the country (the last big quake in the East, with a magnitude of 5.8, was in 1944 in Massena, N.Y). I said to myself, "Wow... an earthquake in New York," then took a nice shower to remove my yoga sweat.
When I returned to my television they were still reporting on this itty bitty 5.8 earthquake, and how people there were so not used to such things. It was reported that many in New York City especially, were reminded of of the attacks of 9/11, and for a moment thought that was happening again.
I don't blame them.
And I have to admit that we here on the West coast experience them so frequently, even more powerful and deadly ones, that we tend to take them in stride (which could either be a good or bad thing, depending on the circumstances).
I've gone through many such instances of sudden shifting of the earth, and just don't care about them anymore. The earth will do what it will whether I like it or not. So I thumb my nose at them with haughty disdain.
When I was fifteen, on February 9th, of 1971, I remember waking up because my bed was shaking back and forth violently. My little dachshund, Buttons, was sleeping inbetween my outstretched legs as was her custom. She woke up to.
"Earthquake," I said to Buttons, then we both went back to sleep.
A lot of people reacted differently. My psychotic step father at the time, Norman, abandoned his family and ran from our house naked.
That quake was 6.6 on the Richter Scale. It caused a whole bunch of damage and 65 people died because of it. My family and I had to evacuate our home for three days because the Lower Van Norman Dam was damaged and a breech thought possible. We lived under that dam, and we were told that if it did break there would have been 5 feet of water where our living room used to be.
But I for one will never, ever, make fun of the over reactions of those of the East coast of this wonderful country, despite the title of this post. We are all Americans, brothers and sisters. I can't imagine how I would react to an oncoming hurricane, such as the one currently creeping toward the Carolinas (move to California), and as a nation we certainly share the sorrow and pain experienced by those in New York City on September 11th, 2001, as the tenth anniversary of that tragic event draws near.
No one can ridicule that.
We are reminded how those in the East react to our reaction on the rare occasions that snow actually hits the ground somewhere in Southern California.
Yes indeed, we do remember.
Maybe the Evangelist Pat Robertson sums up our collective feelings toward the reaction of those on the East coast, as reported in the Borowitz Report:
“God looks at people who get their panties in a twist after a little shaking, and He says to Himself, ‘Wow, that’s really kind of gay,’” he said.
http://www.borowitzreport.com/2011/08/24/pat-robertson-blames-mild-earthquake-on-people-who-seem-kind-of-gay/
In the meantime, the FBI has arrested the entire population of Mineral (babies too) and are in the process of interrogating the instigators. Republicans in Congress insist they all be shipped to Guantanamo Bay as Enemy Pranksters... forthwith.