Thursday, May 01, 2008


The people of Iraq are still largely without water:
Iraq's Nassriya Water Treatment Plant, the country's largest reconstruction project, is a failure so far because it isn't delivering sufficient water to enough people, a new audit says.

Inspectors in December and again in February found the U.S.-funded plant 200 miles (322 kilometers) south of Baghdad was operating at only 20 percent capacity, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction said in a report released today.

``Potable water is only reaching a fraction of the Iraqi people for which it was designed and intended,'' Inspector General Stuart Bowen said. Two of the intended five cities, Ad Diwayah and Suq Al Shoyokh, weren't receiving water, he wrote.


Military Intelligence

Makes perfect sense, as usual:

Vice President Cheney pinned Brown, of Lake Jackson, Tex., with a Silver Star in March for repeatedly risking her life on April 25, 2007, to shield and treat her wounded comrades, displaying bravery and grit. She is the second woman since World War II to receive the nation's third-highest combat medal.

Within a few days of her heroic acts, however, the Army pulled Brown out of the remote camp in Paktika province where she was serving with a cavalry unit -- because, her platoon commander said, Army restrictions on women in combat barred her from such missions.

"We weren't supposed to take her out" on missions "but we had to because there was no other medic," said Lt. Martin Robbins, a platoon leader with Charlie Troop, 4th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, whose men Brown saved. "By regulations you're not supposed to," he said, but Brown "was one of the guys, mixing it up, clearing rooms, doing everything that anybody else was doing."

In Afghanistan as well as Iraq, female soldiers are often tasked to work in all-male combat units -- not only for their skills but also for the culturally sensitive role of providing medical treatment for local women, as well as searching them and otherwise interacting with them. Such war-zone pragmatism is at odds with Army rules intended to bar women from units that engage in direct combat or collocate with combat forces.

Military personnel experts say that as a result, the 1992 rules are vague, ill defined, and based on an outmoded concept of wars with clear front lines that rarely exist in today's counterinsurgencies.


April Was a Bad Month

Not just for the troops in Iraq, either:
U.S. companies' planned layoffs jumped 68 percent in April from the prior month to the highest since September 2006, pointing to further deterioration in the labor market, a report showed on Thursday.


Wednesday, April 30, 2008


The father of LSD
has died:
Albert Hofmann, who died on Tuesday aged 102, synthesised lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) in 1938 and became the first person in the world to experience a full-blown "acid trip" – that was on April 19 1943, which became known among aficionados as "Bicycle Day" as it was while cycling home from his laboratory that he experienced the most intense symptoms.


Another Bad Month

April turned out to be the bloodiest in a while:
Two U.S. soldiers were killed in Baghdad, the U.S. military said on Wednesday, taking the American troop death toll in Iraq for April to 46.

That makes April the deadliest month since September, when 65 U.S. soldiers died in Iraq, according to figures compiled by, an independent Web site that tracks military deaths.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Your Tax Dollars at Work


A contractor died when a DynCorp manager used an employee’s armored car to transport prostitutes, according to Barry Halley, a Worldwide Network Services employee working under a DynCorp subcontract.

“DynCorp’s site manager was involved in bringing prostitutes into hotels operated by DynCorp. A co-worker unrelated to the ring was killed when he was travelling in an unsecure car and shot performing a high-risk mission. I believe that my co-worker could have survived if he had been riding in an armored car. At the time, the armored car that he would otherwise have been riding in was being used by the contractor’s manager to transport prostitutes from Kuwait to Baghdad.


All Is Well

Thank goodness, the oil companies are still profiting:

BP and Royal Dutch Shell have reported massive increases in profits for the first three months of this year on the back of rocketing petrol prices, which are expected to hit £5 a gallon today.

BP's pre-tax profits rose 48 per cent in the first quarter to $6.6 billion (£3.3 billion) while Shell increased its profits 12 per cent to a record $7.8 billion (£3.9 billion).

The increase has been driven by the rising oil prices, which the companies have passed on to consumers in the form of higher petrol and diesel costs.



Not what I would call appropriate pedagogical technique:
Daphne Beasley, principal of Hollis F. Price Middle College in Memphis, Tennessee, is under fire for outing at least one gay couple in her student body, according to the ACLU-backed couple and their parents.