April 2004

Fri Apr 02 17:19:17 PST 2004

Thoughts on Air America Radio

Proven, Reliable Technology
This works much better than real audio (sorry, technofreaks).

Somewhat by surprise (it wasn't planned that way initially, then it happened as the result of a last minute deal), KPOJ Portland ended up as one of the stations where Air America Radio premiered on. Which means I can listen to it on my reliable 1942 Philco radio (which never drops audio due to network congestion) as opposed to the unreliable Internet (which does).

My Thoughts on it all:

Fri Apr 02 20:34:46 PST 2004

Heading for the Mountains

This may (or may not) be my last entry before I head up to Breitenbush Hot Springs for a "working interview." That basically means I'll work for them for three days so we'll both have an idea of how well I fit in. If I do, odds are probably pretty good I'll be up there for the summer.

Beyond that, who knows. If a permanent position eventually does come out of it, it would a) be great to work for a worker co-op instead of a fascist dictatorship in miniature, b) I'd love living right in the midst of an ancient forest, and c) it would solve the problem of escaping the trap of professional high-tech employment. But a) I'd miss the city and my friends here, b) I worry about simply turning my back on a world that needs so much changing, c) the summers are hotter and winters are colder there, and d) moving is always such a pain.

Sat Apr 03 13:43:22 PST 2004

The Agony of Occupation

Reading about Susan Galleymore's trip to Iraq immediately brought to mind this recent commentary. Alas, Galleymore's web site appears to be both a) incomplete and b) pitifully Microsoft-centric and standards-violating at the present time.

Regarding the burnt corpses dragged behind cars and hung from a bridge in Fallujah, Nathan Newman's blog probably has the best take on it I've seen so far. Oh, and "mercenaries" is a much better description than "civilian worker" for the victims of that attack.

Sun Apr 11 20:57:58 PDT 2004

Back from the Mountains

I'm back from the working interview. It's left me more attracted than ever to the idea of living and working at Breitenbush. And yes, the three days morphed into seven; the Breitenbush Vortex can be a little tough to escape at times. Beyond that, I won't say anything. Seems like every time I express optimism about a job prospect nothing comes of it.

Sun Apr 11 21:03:20 PDT 2004

Asleep at the Switch

Thanks to the magic of shortwave radio, I never was out of touch with the world news during my stint in the mountains. It's odd; everyone else complains about the lack of radio (mostly local FM) reception there, but I was enjoying the unusually good shortwave reception. While the mountains block the local VHF signals, the Breitenbush Valley is broad enough to let in the HF signals skipping off the ionosphere, and the rural conditions make for a blissful lack of the electrical noise. It's something I had always suspected but which I had never bothered to actually verify until now. But I digress.

What happened during my absence was the remarkable escalation of resistance in Iraq. It's not that I particularly like the motives behind most of the resistance (trust me, I don't), but that it is good to see the occupation failing in some way. A failed occupation will leave behind a discredited and humbled US military, which is probably the one thing the world needs the most right now.

What disturbs me is the almost total lack of resistance here at home. There's much more room for opposing it without incurring bloodshed here at home. Moreover, massive and militant opposition at home would underscore in impressionable minds abroad the difference between the US ruling class and the majority of ordinary Americans.

Instead, nothing. Given that nearly all of the resistance to the occupation is being done by violent means in Iraq, and very little is being done by nonviolent means at home, the upshot is that history might be read in the future to imply that nonviolent resistance doesn't work, when in fact what it would show is that no method will work if it isn't even seriously tried.

Mon Apr 12 23:28:30 PDT 2004

Not to Be Overly Negative, But...

I really have this sneaking suspicion that no Breitenbush job will materialize, for no other than the simple reason that that's what's almost always happened with any place I've really wanted to work at. The silver lining to that dark cloud is that I will avoid having to move (and all that entails). Not to mention G.B. Shaw's famous aphorism about getting what you wish for.

Tue Apr 13 08:14:22 PDT 2004

No, You Don't

"Hello, I need to speak with Mr. David Barts."

Some bozo has been leaving messages like that for almost the past month on my machine.

Listen, asswipe: if you really needed to speak with me, you'd leave a message on my machine that stated your name, the purpose of your call, and your phone number. But you don't. All you ever leave is that initial message, sometimes followed with a "Hello? Hello?". Then you hang up.

So maybe the call is going through an outbound distribution switch that doesn't let you hear the OGM on my machine. That's no excuse. First, it's exceedingly rude to not speak to someone as soon as they answer the phone. I have no interest in talking to rude people. Second, if you're being routed through such a switch it means you're nothing but a telemarketer trying to sell me something I don't want or need.

That last suspicion is furthered by the way Call Return never works on your calls.

So get it straight: you don't need to speak to me at all. You simply want to speak to me. And I'm very pleased that my machine is giving you the same treatment that your distribution switch was intended to give me. You're welcome.

(There. I feel so much better now after venting.)

Wed Apr 14 09:08:04 PDT 2004

News reports like this all but beg as obvious to even the most casual observer conclusions like this.

Let's forget for the moment any namby-pamby bleeding-heart stuff like compassion for human life and just discuss the cold hard facts of military strategy. The Israeli policies the US occupiers are emulating simply don't work. Israel has been following them for decades, employing one of the best-run militaries in the world to pursue them. Yet at the same time Israel is one of the least-secure nations on earth; its residents live in constant fear of attacks by suicide bombers.

And when it does come to things like compassion for human life, facts like:

At least 87 US soldiers have died while aid agencies counted at least 470 Iraqi dead in the Sunni city of Falluja alone last week, with 243 women and 200 children among them.
pretty much undercut any whining little complaints about what brutes the Iraqi resistance fighters are in comparison to the occupiers. First, the foreign civilians the resistance kills are often mercenaries; second, those that aren't outright mercenaries are generally members of or working in the service of the ruling elites of nation-states either participating in the occupation, supporting it, or failing to oppose it with any sort of real effort. However poorly some of those latter categories provide rationalization for them to be targets, it's still a better one than can be found for the deaths of completely innocent women and children.

For those who can't do the math in their heads, the above figures mean that ninety-four percent of those killed in Falluja were women and children.

Go team.

Thu Apr 15 08:01:52 PDT 2004

Giving a Whole New Meaning to the Term "Copy Cat"

In and of itself, this is just yet another example of the market coming up with silly ways for rich people to spend their money. It's not fundamentally any worse (or different) from the way it enables the rich to lavish veterinary care on their pets while the children of the poor die because they have no health care at all.

But nothing happens in a vacuum, and the manipulation of life is in general a technology that poses a worse threat to the future of the world than Hitler and the Nazis did. Advances in cloning existing animals facilitate the cloning of genetically-engineered ones. That's assuming for sake of argument that the business in question has solved the numerous problems that have happened with other attempts to clone mammals.

No, I'm not exaggerating with the "worse than the Nazis" comment. More on that later.

Thu Apr 15 09:17:57 PDT 2004

Know of Any Good Deals on Stinger Missiles?

If so, let me know. The experience with the damned helicopters (probably corporate news media, but I'm not 100% sure) hovering over my neighborhood between 5:30 and 7:30 this morning is enough to make me consider investing in some should a repeat performance be staged. And there's not the slightest bit of a news story to indicate any good reason for it. More than likely they just wanted footage of the traffic at the intersection of the Sunset Freeway and I-405 this morning. They weren't cops: they weren't using the spotlight that police helicopters do (as they would need to in predawn hours).

Note for law enforcement types reading this: Cool your jets. I'm not seriously going to do this. Just found the thought opening the living-room window and letting 'er rip comforting as the infernal 'copters were robbing me of two hours of sleep this morning.

Tue Apr 20 19:42:33 PDT 2004

Gestapo Watch
So many Fallujahans have been killed by the U.S. marines that residents have had to dig mass graves. The city's football stadium now holds more than 200 bodies.

"When you see a child five years old with no head, what can you say?" says a doctor in Fallujah whose name is being withheld for his safety. "When you see a child with no brain, just an open cavity, what can you say?"

The doctor says many were buried in the football until it became full. "When you are burying you cannot stay long because they (the U.S. marines) will just shoot you," he says. "So we use the shovel. Just dig a big hole and put a whole family in the hole and leave as soon as possible so we are not shot."

Full story here.

Tue Apr 20 22:07:24 PDT 2004

The Worst Idea Since Invading Iraq

Has got to be Monkey Boy's recent endorsement of Ariel Sharon's land grab in the West Bank. With gasoline being poured on the fire like that, mark my word: there's gonna be some serious shit coming down because of it.

Wed Apr 21 12:16:06 PDT 2004

So Tell Me, Mr. Kerry, Why Should I Vote for You?

First you get on Monkey Boy's bandwagon for the Iraq debacle. Now you have the following to say for yourself about Bush and Sharon's land grab (as reported by Helen Thomas in her most recent column):

I think that could be a positive step. What's important, obviously, is the security of the state of Israel, and that's what the prime minister and president, I think, are trying to address.
A friend of mine was pondering voting for Bush, because (his rationale, not mine) their policies are so close so Bush is obviously better because at least he pisses off more people and is generally percieved as dangerous. Which is obviously better than someone who is dangerous and who is not percieved as so.

I disagreed, agreeing with Chomsky that there is a discernable difference between the two parties. Now it appears that Kerry is doing his darndest to make me change my mind and admit I was wrong.

Wed Apr 21 22:40:41 PDT 2004

Cut the Sanctimonious Crap

I've just about had it with the establishment media and their feigned moral outrage over the Iraqi resistance killing children in Basra.

Yes, it's terrible that children and other innocents get killed. Heck, it's terrible that anyone is getting killed — soldiers and policemen are people too. News flash: war is terrible. But no, the killing of innocent children does not serve to substantially differentiate the actions of the resistance from those of the occupiers. (And the same media that wrings its hands over the children killed by the former is strangely muted about the latter.)

If anything, the resistance's bombings in Basra appear to be better targeted than the occupiers' offensive in Falluja. Preliminary casualty counts in Basra show about 70 dead, including 10 policemen (i.e. collaborators with the occupation and thus fair game under the traditional rules of warfare). Assuming no other combatants got killed, that means about 86% of those killed were noncombatants. Preliminary statistics for Falluja showed well over 90% of those killed were noncombatants. Not only that, the raw numbers in Falluja are higher by about an order of magnitude.

Condemning what happened in Basra while downplaying what happened in Falluja is thus not only a dishonest double standard, it's barking up the wrong tree entirely.

Fri Apr 23 09:44:44 PDT 2004

Thanks, ODOT

Unsafe Off-Ramp

This is the ramp connecting Barbur Blvd. (aka Highway 99W) to the Beaverton Highway (aka Highway 10). Note the bike lane. Note how the bike lane disappears where the blind, sharp curve exists. Note how the bike lane is on the inside side of the curve. Note how cars tend to ride close to the inside edge as they make curves.

There's also a bike lane on Barbur, and on the part of the exit ramp leading to this curve. It's just that on this sharp, blind curve — precisely where you'd want the bike lane the most — it doesn't exist. Riding this yesterday scared the pants off me. I wonder how many cyclists have been injured or killed here.

Mark my word, if there were situations on the road that put cars in as much danger from trucks as there are that put bikes in danger from cars, car drivers would be up in arms over the situation.

Fri Apr 23 10:01:53 PDT 2004

A Failure of New Urbanism?

'The Round' at Beaverton    'The Round' at Beaverton

Here's two shots showing "The Round", a development at the Beaverton Central MAX stop. When I first moved to the Portland area, it was in a half-completed state, and had obviously been that way for some time. It stayed that way for my first whole year here, before activity resumed. Apparently the initial developer bailed because costs were escalating and he was unsure of it ever being a success.

It doesn't completely show in the pictures, but the units (both residential and commercial) are still mostly vacant, despite extensive advertising and promotion. Naysayers will say that this just proves the failure of New Urbanist design.

However, similarly-styled loft developments in the Pearl District of central Portland typically all sell out before construction is finished, even though they are advertised less than "The Round" is and was. There's also the very successful New Urbanist "Orenco Station" development in nearby Hillsboro. So obviously New Urbanism itself can't be to blame. I believe that three things have sunk this development, to wit:

  1. It sat there incomplete for several years. Not only does this add an undesirable aura of failure to the place, it sat exposed to the elements through at least two Oregon winters. Can you say "toxic mold worries"?
  2. Despite the design, it's in Beaverton. Any time you sell multi-family housing, you're asking people to give up a measure of privacy, personal space, and quiet. In the Pearl, you get in return close proximity to all the city has to offer. With "The Round", you get... Beaverton.
  3. The price. When you figure in the tax abatements that most of the Pearl properties have, "The Round" offers little or no savings. It even costs more than the typical condo in my inner Portland neighborhood, which doesn't have such redevelopment credits.
In short, why would someone want to pay for the privilege of making personal sacrifices for no benefit in return?

Fri Apr 23 10:32:43 PDT 2004

Incredible (and Revealing)

The Portland Police Department has just let an officer that killed an unarmed Black man under extremely questionable circumstances receive a coveted award. A bit of background: another officer who shot an unarmed Hispanic man last year also received commendation.

With the Department by its own actions doing more do damn itself than any critic could, it should by now be painfully obvious to all that the whole Department is systematically corrupt and rotten to the core.

Fri Apr 23 19:27:11 PDT 2004

Was at the Portland Art Museum with a friend this afternoon. When we got out, there was a demonstration going on at the nearby Shemanski Fountain.

It was, as might be expected, about the recent spate of shootings by police officers that I mentioned just above. I was a little depressed at how many of the speakers stressed working quietly and lawfully within the system (yes, the same system that created and armed the cops, then excused their murders).

I can't offhand think of any alleged "success" of working within the system that hasn't been accompanied by those simultaneously working to replace the system entirely. It appears that those working within the system are only listened to when the alternative presented to those on top is to completely lose the privileges they enjoy. But I digress.

Then a brilliant young man — apparently a PSU student — took the stage and made just plain sensible remark that he felt entitled to use whatever means were necessary to defend himself and his community. We'll see how the mainstream media portrays him. If they don't ignore him (which is most likely outcome), they'll probably portray him as somehow extreme or bloodthirsty.

Which, of course, is patently absurd. You can't have love for anyone or anything unless you love yourself. And if you love yourself, you'll want to protect yourself to the best of your ability. Everything in that man's tone of voice told me that he didn't particularly like the current state of affairs. He certainly wasn't glorifying in the prospect of using violence or anything. In fact, his initial plans for action centered around simply organizing citizens to keep an eye on the cops. What's so violent or extreme about the idea that public servants being paid from the public treasury ought to be observed by the public while working in public places?

Moreover, anyone expecting any person or group to not use any means necessary to fight for the human dignity that is their birthright (let alone simply defend themselves) is probably either a) a member of a privileged group in denial about the privilege s/he enjoys, or b) a member of a discriminated-against group whose spirit has been broken and crushed by years of continuous oppression.

Sat Apr 24 22:40:07 PDT 2004

Fishing Boats, Willamette River, Oregon City
Fishing Boats, Willamette River, Oregon City

The comment for today is how much more pleasant it is to get places when one avoids driving.

I've been doing some fill-in work at a local nursery out on the far side of West Linn. That's beyond the reach of bus service, so I had been borrowing a vehicle from a friend to get there. It's amazing what a shitty mood a few days of daily driving in a metropolitan area can bring about.

So today, despite it taking just under three times as long, I rode the bus to Oregon City and bicycled the last six miles. As the chilly predawn morning turned first to a frosty one, then an overcast one, then a foggy one as the bus made its way south, I had a few doubts, even though I knew I had enough warm clothes with me.

So there I was, riding off through the gloom through the business district of Oregon City. I notice an impressive fleet of small boats fishing for salmon as I cross the historic Conde McCullough-designed bridge across the Willamette. So I stop and take a few pictures. If I had been in a car, I would have missed it; there's no room on the bridge for a car to stop.

I'm off again, then I pause again to catch the morning light illuminating the white water of Willamette Falls. It's a hilly stretch of road. One of the nice things about being out in the air is you can smell the scenery as well as see it. In this case, it's not so nice, as the agency responsible for this stretch of road has sprayed poison to keep the weeds away from it. A step that wouldn't be necessary if it weren't for an addiction to cars and speed, yet another way in which cars are trashing the planet. But I digress.

The hill tops out in the historic Willamette district of West Linn. The fog is getting thicker and thicker. All the cars have their lights on and I decide to engage my generator so mine are on as well. A lone jogger says good morning.

Down the hill, through fog and dripping trees with a nice, wet woodsy smell. The fog stratifies in an interesting pattern, with a really dense layer only a few feet thick about ten feet above the road. Then it's across the Tualatin river, which begs the question, exactly how much further past the bridge is it, anyhow? I sort of remember it being very close to the bridge, but it can't be this soon; I must be engaging in wishful thinking.

Not so — there's the sign materializing out of the gloom right now! How anticlimactic.

Sun Apr 25 11:38:31 PDT 2004

My Thoughts on Arissa

I've been meaning to write this for some time. The recent march against police brutality Arissa announced is, so far as I know, the first political action organized by this group.

Arissa itself is weird. It was, I believe, announced one day by Craig Rosebraugh, the Portland activist personality everybody loves to hate. There's never been (so far as I know) any organizing meetings, or any meetings at all for the organization announced. It seems to consist solely of Craig and some of his closest friends in the movement. This mysterious and secretive nature extends to the rally Arissa recently announced. No African-American or North Portland activists or activist organizations were apparently contacted. This caused bad vibes between these communities and Arissa, to the point that at the rally I attended Friday, organizers asked the crowd to not attend the Arissa-organized event the following day. (That struck me as needlessly bickersome and argumentative; the reason I didn't attend the Arissa rally was that I was working then.)

Moreover, Rosebraugh himself is strange. He gained his fame as a spokesman for the Earth Liberation Front, then went on to publish a book with a deliberately provocative cover illustration. His latest enterprise has been to establish an upscale vegan restaurant. Strangely, for something launched by someone who professes radical political views, it's a traditionally-run, hierarchical, capitalist enterprise (one would expect a worker's cooperative at the least).

What to make of it all; specifically, the contradiction between Rosebraugh's professed radicalism and his practiced mainstream life? A little bit of background: his dad, Fred Rosebraugh, is a millionaire capitalist, owner and founder of the Hillsboro corporation Compact Controls, Inc. (now part of the Sauer-Danfoss conglomerate). My guess is that his parents were so engrossed in their own worlds that they tended not to pay attention to Craig. So he has a long-held desire to be noticed, both by his parents and the world in general. What better way to yank the chain of your bourgeois parents (and the bourgeois establishment in general) than to become an outspoken self-proclaimed radical?

It doesn't necessarily prove anything of course, but seen as the expression of Craig's personal desire to be noticed and to be a center of attention, it all starts making some sense.

Sun Apr 25 20:53:49 PDT 2004

Ominous Symptoms

Certain things are telling me that grass pollen season is beginning. I was hoping I'd be able to use stinging nettles to mostly eliminate the suffering. Now I'm not so sure. If things get much worse, I'm definitely going to fleeing the Willamette Valley for six to eight weeks until the grasses are done procreating. I was just too damned miserable last year to make the mistake of staying around for a repeat performance.

I can't say exactly, but "fleeing the Willamette Valley" is likely to entail an initial trip to the coast, followed possibly by visits to friends in Seattle and Bend, seeing my parents in New Mexico, and hopefully some fill-in work in the mountains at Breitenbush. One thing I'd really like to find out is whether or not Breitenbush is far enough from the valley for it to escape grass pollen hell.

Hopefully, it's all a false alarm, the nettles are working, and instead of feeling minor sniffles I'd really be suffering right now if I wasn't taking preventative measures.

Mon Apr 26 10:31:15 PDT 2004

Flash Photography on the Forest Floor

Normally I don't like the effect of using any artifical illumination of forest-floor plant pictures. Things end up looking significantly differently than they do in real live. Just compare the following two example shots of a Pacific Waterleaf, Hydrophyllum tenuipes (flash picture is on the left):

Flash    Available light

But one of the disadvantages of a compact digital camera is that the small sensor size results in short focal length lenses that make it impossible to have a shallow depth of field, even if you want one for purposes of emphasis. That was a problem for the following shot, which would have been rendered as a one-dimensional mosaic of foliage even at f/2.8. Would have, that is, except I used flash. That made the subject plant stand out, by virtue of the background plants all being darker and having some shadows cast on them:

Flash used for emphasis

Besides getting that insight, it was a very nice walk. Probably somewhere between five and six miles, and barefoot so I could feel the ground I was walking on (my feet are still tingling). Got pictures of eight spring flowers that had been missing from my spring flowers page. Saw both native Disporum species and learned how to tell the two apart.

I need to go through my files of old film camera pictures and dig out some of the remaining missing common flowers that I know I have good shots of.

Tue Apr 27 23:57:27 PDT 2004

Testing, testing

Testing some new (and, as it stands right now, pretty damn ugly) Java code designed to optimize updating. Early tests indicate a great speed-up.

Wed Apr 28 09:48:05 PDT 2004

"Conservatives" Versus "Radicals"?

I question the appropriateness of the terms used in this article on the recent Sierra Club elections.

I hardly consider myself a conservative, yet I voted for the so-called "Conservatives" in this election, for the simple reason that I want absolutely no part of the America-First-ist immigrant-bashing of the so-called "Radicals".

If it wasn't for that extremely heavy spare baggage, I would have voted for many of the "Radicals". But, sorry — the combination of environmentalism plus right-wing nationalist rhetoric is not new. Hitler and the Nazis were also big on both. Spouting adherence to one or two progressive shibboleths does not a progressive make. The "Radicals" actually seem to me to be closer matches to fascists than radicals (though in truth they aren't particularly close matches to either).

Not to mention that it's just plain bad policy. It adopts a "we've got ours, so fuck you" attitude to the Third World. Many countries of which are the shitholes they are in no small part because of the neo-imperialism of the First World. And then there's my hostility to any policy (such as immigrant-bashing) that encourages respect for nationalism.

Wanna really earn my respect as "Radical" candidates? Replace your anti-immigration line with an anti-imperialist one, and put a plank in your platform about solidarity with progressive and radical movements in the Third World.

Thu Apr 29 12:20:25 PDT 2004

The Violence Debate, Chapter LXXVII

Portland Indymedia has yet another debate on political violence going on. It started out with a pretty good and original point, and some of the points being made are still pretty good.

Alas, however, the right-wing yahoos seem to be descending upon that thread, which is probably not a good sign. You can't really have a quality discussion of anything if you're being forced by circumstances to endlessly revisit the basics.

Thu Apr 29 13:07:28 PDT 2004

The Real Saddam Loyalists

...do exist and are actually on the verge of taking over Falluja... aided and abetted by the US occupation forces:

US forces today announced an end to their siege of Falluja, saying they will pull out immediately to allow a newly-created, Iraqi security force to secure the city.

The new force, known as the Falluja Protective Army, will consist of up to 1,100 Iraqi soldiers led by a former general from the military of Saddam Hussein and will begin moving into the city tomorrow.

Remember that the next time the corporate media tries to portray any and all resistance as "Saddam loyalists". Full story here.

Thu Apr 29 15:51:01 PDT 2004

On the Limitations of Pseudonyms

Recently I ran across something on Portland Indymedia that I just knew was the work of a certain acquaintance of mine, despite the name on it being strange to me. Ran into him today, greeted him by the pseudonym he used, and got the expected "How'd you know that was me?". Then, upon a little reflection, he realized that all in all it was pretty obvious.

Others have given me the same treatment (with the same results) after I've posted things under pseudonyms.

The thing is, if anyone knows you in real life, they can probably blow your cover like this. It only makes sense. If you really feel passionately about something, you'll share your views on it with most people you know. You'll also feel compelled to share your views anonymously under your favorite pseudonyms (if you use pseudonyms, that is). So most anyone who knows you will notice the similarity and put two and two together.

Moreover, even if the initial connection isn't made, an eventual one probably will be, based on observations of whatever combination of views is posted under a given pseudonym. And most people who use pseudonyms tend not to use a fresh one each time. (That also makes sense; there's the urge to cash in on whatever credibility one has built up for having insightful views in the past, plus the desire to present the current piece as part of a larger picture.)

Bottom line is that pseudonyms provide only the most rudimentary anonymity. Don't delude yourself into thinking otherwise.

Fri Apr 30 02:49:26 PDT 2004

Now Why Would Anyone Say Anything Like That?

In a recent AP news item, it seems as if some people are skeptical of secret government laboratories that can evade responsibility for what they do by simply declaring it a matter of national security and declaring it classified so the public stays unaware of it.

Now why would anyone have worries like that? Why can't they just blindly trust the government, like people did for so many years at Hanford while the infamous Green Run experiment was happening and "temporary" single-shell soft steel tanks were being used to store corrosive radioactive wastes indefinitely?

(Don't have a real juicy link on the latter handy, but the executive summary is that scientists issued warnings both during and immediately after World War II that the tanks were only suitable for temporary use and it had only been acceptable to use them for storing such wastes at all because the raw materials for stainless steel were so scarce due to wartime shortages. Such reports were classified and the wastes left in the tanks for decades. And soft steel did what soft steel always does in the presence of corrosive salts. Best link I can find on a short notice is this one from 1997, which mentions (emphasis added):

As they age, the tanks become more likely to leak and, with the oldest single-shell now past 50 years old, eventually susceptible to collapse.

The design life for the oldest tanks was not more than 20 years; for the newer double-shell tanks, 50 years.

A 1993 safety report concluded the oldest tanks could last about 40 more years, if no major changes in operations or stresses occur, Don Wodrich, DOE's senior technical adviser for the tank farms, said in a separate interview.

Do the math. They were trying to get eighty years of service (for storing some of the nastiest substances known to mankind!) out of a tank with a maximum design life of at most twenty years!)

But trust us, we'll be responsible with the Ebola virus this time.

Fri Apr 30 09:21:26 PDT 2004

Gestapo Watch

The first set of actual photographic evidence of what the American Gestapo is doing to Iraqi prisoners has finally leaked out for all to see.

The BBC has a report (and what appears to be a slightly different set of pictures) here (RealVideo, so you'll need RealPlayer to see it). It also covers the damning accusations (of one of the US soldiers accused of abusing prisoners) that he was ordered by his superiors to do so, and that "contractors" (i.e. mercenaries) are also being used to guard prisoners.

And some of those mercenaries in Iraq have truly gruesome pasts, which makes the fact that they are being used to guard prisoners all the more frightening.

Fri Apr 30 22:19:30 PDT 2004

More on the Latest Adventures of the Gestapo

Tom Tomorrow has come across a Guardian article which mentions a mercenary torturer under the employ of the US not being charged "because military law has no jurisdiction over him". One of the hallmarks of the original German Gestapo was that they were officially above the law and immune from prosecution for anything they did. Just in case you were thinking my "Gestapo" rhetoric is a little extreme or anything.

Another blog has annotated copies of the (now infamous) torture pictures. For example, the famous picture of the guy in the black cape and hood standing on the box with wires dangling from his arms has the following caption: "This Iraqi prisoner had electrical wires wrapped around his arms, his legs, and his testicles. He was told that if he stepped off the box, that he would be electrocuted." There's also some pictures on that site that I haven't seen elsewhere yet.

Fri Apr 30 22:51:49 PDT 2004

The Arissa and APOC Show

Seems as if two of Portland's radical groups Arissa (whom I've mentioned recently) and APOC (Anarchist People of Color) have a little spat going. APOC's side of the argument is here; Arissa's is here.

While neither side is completely without guilt, some of Rosebraugh's insensitivity on race issues really grates on me. And at the end he empties a whole round into his own foot when he threatens to sue APOC for doing nothing more than posting an article to Indymedia that was unflattering to Arissa. What a jerk.

Call me biased, but APOC's minor transgression of taking things to a public forum instead of first trying to iron them out face-to-face seems to pale in comparison.

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