Nov. 21st, 2003

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so there were these bombings
Two truck bombs exploded minutes apart outside the British Consulate and a British bank Thursday morning, killing at least 27 people and injuring 450 in the second double bombing in the city in six days, Turkish authorities said.

The bomb blasts shocked a city that had just begun to recover from similar attacks on two synagogues last Saturday, prompting Turkish officials to put Istanbul security forces on their highest state of alert and to close the nation's stock exchange. The U.S. Consulate here was shut down for all but emergency services, and the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, the Turkish capital, warned Americans in Istanbul to drastically restrict their movements.

Turkish, British and U.S. officials said the coordinated bombings matched the patterns of al Qaeda-sponsored suicide attacks but conceded there was no concrete proof as to who was behind the attacks.

but apparently Bush and Blair have better information
President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair declared Thursday that the invasion of Iraq was not to blame for the recent wave of terrorist violence and that the bombs that devastated two British facilities in Turkey proved the need to press ahead with the military campaign.

"Our mission in Iraq is noble and it is necessary, and no act of thugs or killers will change our resolve or alter their fate," Bush said at a joint news conference with Blair, as tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered on the city's streets to protest the Iraq war. "We will finish the job we have begun."

The two leaders spoke hours after Britain was stunned by the news that two truck bombs aimed at British targets had killed at least 27 people in Istanbul. British civilian facilities had until now escaped being targeted in the terrorist attacks that have followed those of Sept. 11, 2001.

Blair echoed Bush's remarks, calling for attacking terrorists "wherever and whenever we can."

Bush and Blair spoke as Britons absorbed the news of the attacks in Istanbul, which demolished the British Consulate, killing its top diplomat, and the local headquarters of the London-based HSBC Bank.

The two leaders appeared in an ornate room in the Foreign Office headquarters beneath a large pewter chandelier and behind lecterns with the royal motto "Honi soit qui mal y pense," or "Shame on him who thinks evil of it."

Shame nobody thought to have one of those cool powerpoint backdrop tarps made up to say that.

Amongst other folks less well informed than Messrs Bush and Blair about the motivations of the bombers: al Qaeda
A statement purporting to come from a unit of Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network says the group has carried out the two suicide car bombings that ripped through Istanbul on Thursday, killing 27 people.

The statement by the Abu Hafz al-Masri Brigades -- which earlier claimed responsibility for Saturday's bombings of Turkish synagogues -- said it had targeted British interests in Turkey to "shatter the peace of Britain... which battles Islam".

this attack, however, we're fairly sure has to do with the war
Insurgents deploying rocket-launcher-equipped donkey carts attacked symbolically important and well-fortified buildings in Baghdad Friday, just hours after a top U.S. commander proclaimed progress in the military's newly aggressive high-tech counter-insurgency operation.

The donkey-cart offensive hit the Sheraton and Palestine hotels here, which house reporters and American contractors, including employees of a subsidiary of Halliburton, Inc., as well as the Iraqi oil ministry, where bureaucrats displaced from a number of government departments do their work.

The damage to buildings and the injuries to people were relatively contained. Few people were at work early Friday, a holy day here.

The damage to the military's reputation here could not be measured.

this, we're reasonably certain, had little or nothing to do with al Qaeda or the war in Iraq
The White House was evacuated and Vice President Cheney was moved briefly yesterday morning when an air-defense radar system erroneously showed a plane in restricted airspace, authorities said.

Fighter jets were scrambled to look for the plane, thought to be less than five miles from the White House, but they could not find it, authorities said. The alert ended after about 15 minutes, and Cheney and other White House staff returned safely to work.

which suggests to me that what the people of the islamic world need is an undisclosed location.

Maybe Hallburton can set one up for them.
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some people rely on trial lawyers to change the world
While courts continue to legislate from the bench, filibusters are stopping the appointment of judges who say they will honor the U.S. Constitution. That's prompting Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to declare judicial filibusters unconstitutional.

"I have decided that I've had it, that I don't see any breakthrough any time soon," Graham said. "So, I have decided to take this case to the Supreme Court."


Graham, who will be joined in the suit by Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss, said he hopes to file it early next year.

it costs some people an arm and, well, two legs

Cleland's opponent, Saxby Chambliss, who sat out Vietnam with a bad knee, aired a spot featuring unflattering pictures of Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein ... and Max Cleland. Chambliss charged Cleland, the Vietnam vet amputee, was soft on national security because he'd voted against creating the Homeland Security Act. In truth, Cleland co-wrote the legislation to create the Homeland Security Department, but objected to repeated attempts by the White House to deprive future Homeland Security employees of traditional civil service protection.

Go ahead, view the ad and hear what the 9/11 Commission is being required not to look at.

Max Cleland. Still serving his country.

Saxby Chambliss. You run for the United States Congress and to your mounting horror, you end up... in the United States Congress.

Sucks being you.
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via Ethel the Blog
This quiet, almost desolate, place is Wal-Mart on the 14th of the month. The throngs of greedy, sharp-elbowed bargain hunters are not there.

This isn't a scene from Wal-Mart's future, either. This is how it is right now, today. You see, Wal-Mart's foundation customer has finally gone bust.

That's not idle speculation. It's based on an ingenious method Wal-Mart has developed for judging the liquidity of its core customers. Wal-Mart knows the paycheck-to-paycheck consumer is its lifeblood. It also knows that most paychecks are issued on the 15th and the 30th of each month. Government-issued checks come out at the end of the month. If you want to know how the wage earners are doing, you have keep track of the middle of the month.

So each month, Wal-Mart adds up all the sales from all of its stores on the 14th of the month, when consumers are out of money. Then Wal-Mart subtracts that figure from all the sales from all of its stores on the 15th of the month, the day Joe and Mary Paycheck get paid. The resulting difference is perhaps the single best measure of the liquidity of Middle America.

"The consumer's liquidity crisis is the worst that Wal-Mart has seen and is the most pronounced in the last five to seven years," according to a recently issued Deutsche Bank report, quoted in Grant's Interest Rate Observer.
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from some observant soul in comments:
In the recent marathon debate on judicial nominations, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch earnestly expressed the view that the Democrats' filibuster against several of President Bush's nominations was unprecedented and even unconstitutional. This led me to dig up some old Congressional Records from April 1980, when Senate Republicans mounted a filibuster against President Carter's nominee for general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board -- a man who had served as a career attorney at the board for 27 years.

The senator leading the filibuster said it was his "unfortunate duty to challenge the nomination" because, although he "personally liked" the nominee, he was "too pro-labor" and other qualified nominees would be "acceptable to business." After five days of floor debate, the filibuster was broken on the second cloture vote, and the nominee was confirmed for a four-year term.

The reason I remember this episode so well is that the nominee was William A. Lubbers, my father, and the senator leading the filibuster was Orrin G. Hatch.

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um... er...
A U.S. official said the recent attacks have had multiple layers of significance that reached well beyond Turkey's borders.

"They went after the Jewish community, they went after a foreign community living in Turkey, but they also killed and injured a huge number of Turks," he said.

So they didn't just kill Jews, they killed Turks?

I do believe I'm missing a distinction here.


Nov. 21st, 2003 03:50 pm
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Fragments may be 250 million years old
About three dozen microscopic shards of rock unearthed in Antarctica may be the fragments of a meteor that killed most of life on earth 250 million years ago, scientists reported Friday.
The shards bolster theories that meteors caused several of the mass extinctions in earth's history when large numbers of species died out almost simultaneously. Most scientists agree that the most recent major mass extinction 65 million years ago, which killed off the dinosaurs, was caused when a meteor struck the earth near the Yucat√°n Peninsula of Mexico.
The extinction 250 million years ago, known as the Permian-Triassic boundary, was the largest extinction of all. More than 90 percent of species living in the oceans and 70 percent of those on land disappeared.
At present, the primary suspected cause for the Permian-Triassic extinction is giant volcanic eruptions in Siberia, which might have induced catastrophic ecological changes.
Writing in Friday's issue of the journal Science, the researchers report that they found the meteorite fragments in rocks in Antarctica that date to the Permian-Triassic boundary. The mineral composition of the fragments, each less than one-fiftieth of an inch, or roughly half a millimeter, wide, correspond to that of certain meteorites and is like nothing found naturally on earth, they reported.
In addition, the scientists said, the same rocks had previously yielded soccer-ball-shaped molecules known as buckyballs containing extraterrestrial gases as well as grains of quartz with fractures that indicate they had been hit with a tremendous shock.
"Clearly, this evidence points toward a major impact at the Permian-Triassic boundary," said Asish Basu, a professor of earth and environmental sciences at the University of Rochester in New York and lead author of the Science paper. That, he said, is "the most reasonable interpretation."

I think Buckminster Fuller would have gotten a kick out of this.
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like Paul Reubens at the end of the Buffy movie, dying and dying and dying and dying and...
Faced with Democratic-led rejection of a broad energy bill, Senate Republicans said Friday they might try to resuscitate some parts of the legislation by tacking them onto a must-pass federal spending bill before Congress.

In a procedural vote of 57-40, the Senate failed by three votes to end a filibuster, or obstructive debate, on the energy bill.

Democrats and moderate Republicans oppose the bill because it would protect petrochemical companies from lawsuits for contaminating water with MTBE, a gasoline fuel additive. More than 1,500 cities say they face costly cleanups because water supplies were tainted by MTBE, a suspected carcinogen.

Under Senate rules, the 1,200-page energy bill cannot be amended. The procedural vote on Friday put the fate of the bill in jeopardy.

from Corrente, what to do.
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