12 February 2010

Friendly leopard seals and polar bears

I definitely don't understand the mind of wild animals. Why would a carnivore want to help a carnivore of another species who was feeding off the same prey?

And then there are polar bears who play with tethered dogs. (I've seen a number of similar videos of this so it must be fairly common!)

10 February 2010

A cure for cancer?

I've heard predictions that we'll see most cancer cured in the next couple decades. We seem to be moving closer to this day with recent studies that are finding that a simple strain of virus is able to cure various cancers with minimal side effects.

5 February 2010

About Uncle Sam's right to kill us

People on the right will talk about scenarios that require that the government has this right and all I can say is that in a perfect world in which perfect people are perfectly omniscient and all-loving (a sort of Catholic Jesus uber-alles paradise), we'd certainly want to give the powers-that-be the right to do anything they feel necessary. But as David Swanson mentions, in the nitty-gritty world we actually live in, this has some major problems:

David Swanson:

Dennis Blair, the director of U.S. national intelligence, told the House Intelligence Committee this week that the government has the right to kill Americans abroad.

Here are 10 problems with this:

1. Acts that are crimes under national and international law don't cease to be crimes because you cross a border.

2. Acts that are crimes under national and international law don't cease to be crimes because you engage in them frequently. Assassinating non-Americans is just as illegal as assassinating Americans. The leap here is not to victims of a different citizenship but to the legalization of murder.

3. Killing people has nothing whatsoever to do with gathering so-called intelligence.

4. Even in this age in which senators and house members petition and write public letters to the president imploring him to obey laws, rather than introducing legislation, issuing subpoenas, holding impeachment hearings, or defunding agencies, the fact remains that Congress, above all, IS the government, and it is just not the place of the director of national thuggery to come in and dictate what the law will or will not be.

5. Having made the globe a battlefield and sanctioned crimes including lawless imprisonment, torture, warrantless spying, indiscriminant bombings, and the use of white phosphorous, depleted uranium, and other sickening weapons, on the grounds that all is fair and legal in war, preventing Americans from becoming the innocent victims of the war is becoming harder and harder. If active military can be on duty here, if we can be spied on, kidnapped, and imprisoned here. If our most prominent foreign death camp can be relocated here, by what logic -- and for how long -- can government assassinations of Americans (without trial) be confined to elsewhere?

6. Typically when we assassinate people abroad, a lot of other innocent people are killed in the process. Those are all murders. That too will come home if there is not resistance soon, major resistance to this madness.

7. We are being asked to trust extrajudicial decisions on whether or not to murder, not just to allegedly wise judges who are in too big a hurry or find it logistically unfeasible to hold a trial, but to the very people who lied us into the wars that are motivating most of the international hostility toward our country and draining most of the resources Americans need at home.

8. No republic has ever survived putting this kind of power in the hands of a single ruler, with no independent legislature, no independent press, and no independent popular resistance. And we're almost there.

9. These people usually only admit to believing they have the barbaric "right" to do things that they have already done.

10. What are the chances the Director of Intelligence will never consider a president a threat to national security?

David Swanson is the author of Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union

2 February 2010

Three-quarter trillion, and what do you get?

Another year older and deeper in debt...

We spend about the same amount as the rest of the entire world combined on offense (I refuse to use the propagandic term "defense"), and we now have the Obama administration in the middle of a financial meltdown saying we need to pour the national purse into the lap of the corrupt military-industrial complex so that they can buy some new fancy space-age gadgets and aircraft engines for . . . who in the hell knows--a secret invasion by Alpha Centaurians? When I see the three-quarter of a trillion price tag, I have a hard time taking seriously any of the budgetary hair-pulling over a few hundred-million here or there for education or a billion or two for a train system. If we can toss something towards a trillion in a hole, we evidently have enough money to do anything.